Filming wild beasts: Cherry Kearton interviewed – archive, 1914 | Photography


I found Mr Cherry Kearton, who has just returned from crossing Africa with a cinema camera for the third time, in the private lounge of his London office (writes a representative of the Manchester Guardian).

He was trying to conduct a business conversation on the phone. Around him stood half a dozen merry friends, whose joy at welcoming him into their home was so great that they refused to be serious. The author of several standard books gave realistic imitations of a roaring lion, while the others laughed loudly at his performance.

Mr. Kearton greeted me with an accent that suggested his origin from the north of the country (he is originally from Yorkshire). β€œCome into the other room,” he said, β€œthere are too many wild animals around here; it’s worse than Africa.

When we were out of “danger” Mr. Kearton told me the following about his experiences in his last great adventure:

β€œOn April 24, 1913, I left England with the aim of crossing Africa from east to west and obtaining unique cinematographic images of animals and native life. This was my third such trip to the Dark Continent, but this time I wanted to get films of untroubled and un-harassed wild animals in their native wilderness, not framed hunts and drives, The expedition that left Nairobi was made up of two other white men besides me, including my partner, Mr. Barnes, who, like his namesake in fiction, was from New York. We traveled on a ‘safari’ or a caravan of a hundred porters and porters.

β€œAfter leaving Nairobi, where there are some good modern cinemas, by the way, we headed north into Abyssinia, going about 300 miles away to avoid the heavy rains. We traveled through British East Africa, Uganda, the Belgian and French Congos, and passed through the homeland where, for months, we saw no white face except our own. It was almost a year after the start that we emerged on the west coast, in Basoko, in the Belgian Congo, with 16,000-17,000 feet of film to show for our sorrows.

β€œDuring the whole expedition we saw 12 lions, crossing five together at a time. But I was only able to get close enough to film two of them. We came within 30 feet of a huge rhino, and under cover of my friends’ guns, I got a wonderful movie of the bully, who, after watching us wildly, decided to give the ‘best’ To the camera and waddled. On another occasion, I was lucky enough to get a close-up shot of 12 giraffes munching on the treetops. For photos of this nature, I often had to stay in one position for 35 or 40 minutes – terribly uncomfortable in a hot, fly-ridden country, but the slightest movement would have frightened my subjects.

An encore refused

β€œSome of my best films show elephants and crocodiles. When it comes to ancient animals, Mr. Barnes was kind enough to have a most exciting adventure just when I was away with my camera. While hunting, he found himself in the middle of a large herd of bullies and, after shooting two in defense, narrowly escaped with his life. I suggested that we follow the herd and that he try to rehearse the performance, explaining what a wonderful movie it would make, but, although he was a pretty old friend of mine, he didn’t seem at all excited about the show. idea.

β€œIn Uganda, we were greeted by the kabaka, or ruling chief, a kind and cultured youngster, educated by an English tutor. He has his own motion picture camera and we have developed some of his films for him. He also has his own small cinema, and here, thousands of miles from civilization, he shows films of English, French and American life, which he bought on his travels abroad.

β€œIn the Congo, we followed Stanley’s old road and met many of his old supporters. Sleeping sickness has ravaged this country horribly, and it’s no exaggeration to say that half of the population that existed in Stanley’s day was killed by it.

β€œThe first batch of my films will, I think, be ready for screening in a few weeks. We also intend to present a duplicate of my studies on nature to the main museums of the world. The American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Museum of the Congo in Brussels will present these films to the public free of charge in their amphitheatres.

Obituary: Cherry Kearton

September 30, 1940

The death is announced of Mr. Cherry Kearton, naturalist, author and one of the first photographers of wild animals. He was born in Thwaite, Swaledale, Yorkshire, to a farming family, and from childhood he shared with his older brother, Richard, the naturalist, the love of animal life.

Richard was the closest student, but Cherry developed a very original idea of ​​taking photographs of animals in an environment not seen by all observers – the privacy of the animal world. The work required almost unlimited patience and remarkable ingenuity in concealment, but the brothers succeeded and produced the first natural history books illustrated cover to cover with photographs.

Over the next few years, Cherry practiced these methods in Central Africa and other foreign countries and photographed the big game. In this he was no less successful than he had been in Yorkshire, obtaining over the course of several years a unique series of photographs showing lions, rhinos, baboons, pythons, buffalos and even small creatures such as white ants and locusts leading their normal lives. lives in the wild.

During the last years he had directed several films, which had a great success. It was one of his brags that he had never used a weapon against an animal, except in self-defense.


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