Film 1: The Mistletoe Bough (1904)

This film, from over a hundred years ago, has been released from its vault by the experts at the BFI National Archive. Using up-to-the-minute digital scanning, this fragile piece of celluloid can reveal its secrets once more.

When The Mistletoe Bough (1924) was made by Percy Stow for the Clarendon Company it had been a Christmas tradition to tell this story for decades – this version of The Mistletoe Bough appears in the Gaumont catalogue for December 1904. The tale probably originated in Italy and was written down by Samuel Rogers in 1823. It appeared in many other forms – poems, ballads and short stories, and as a song in the 1830s entitled The Mistletoe Bough written by T. H. Bayley and Sir Henry Bishop.

It’s the first in a long line of adaptations of this story for film and it is a nice early example of a gothic tale, filmed with some exterior locations in an ancient castle and some studio sets. The final shot – the big reveal – is missing! It is unfortunately common for the endings of reels of early films to be shortened by progressive use in projection.


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    A celebration of gothic film and TV across the UK.

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