This film is part of Free

Maypole Dance

Early film technology has had a strange effect on the recording of this traditional May Day ritual

Non-Fiction 1898 1 mins


The maypole dance - an age-old ritual that marks May Day and the arrival of spring. A perfect moving subject for the early film camera, but look closer and you will notice something strange... are some of the girls prancing around empty-handed?

Early orthochromatic film stocks didn't pick up the full colour spectrum, playing havoc with blues in particular. Here some of the decorative coloured ribbons almost disappear into the leafy background.