Gray F (2008) Our Navy and Patriotic entertainment in Brighton at the Start of the Boer War. In: R Abel et al. (Eds) Early Cinema and the National (pp. 79–89). New Barnet: John Libbey Publishing.
This essay was selected for inclusion within a bilingual volume dedicated to new research that emerged out of the ninth international Domitor Conference held at the University of Michigan in 2006. Responding to the theme of early cinema and the national, Gray’s chapter is dedicated to the origins, meanings and context of the multimedia entertainment Our Navy with emphasis on its exhibition in Brighton in early 1900 at the start of the Boer War.
Performed continuously from 1899 to 1913, Our Navy celebrated the Royal Navy and the British imperial spirit. This unique multimedia display was devised by the photographer and cinematographer, Alfred John West (1858–1937) and featured film, lantern slides, a singer, musicians, a lecturer and sound effects. Its successful tour of England and Scotland in 1899 led to the establishment of its permanent home at a London theatre and the development of national and international touring companies.
Our Navy represented the pro-war and pro-imperial politics of the period. Social critics of the time, such as John Atkinson Hobson, argued that agencies such as the popular press and the music hall (and by implication shows like Our Navy) were not only promoting this state ideology but also manipulating the public’s 'passions' through jingoism and sensationalism.