Earliest Charles Dickens film found

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THE oldest surviving film featuring a Charles Dickens character has been found.

The discovery has been made in the year of the 200th anniversary of Portsmouth author.

The scene is from The Death Of Poor Joe and dates back to 1901.

It was found by British Film Institute (BFI) curator Bryony Dixon in China last month.

Ms Dixon said: ‘It’s wonderful to have discovered such a rare and unique film.

‘It looks beautiful and is in excellent condition. This really is the icing on the cake of our current celebration of Dickens on screen.’

Ms Dixon made unearthed the one-minute film while she was carrying out research in China.

A catalogue entry referred to The Death of Poor Joe, which she recognised as a reference to the character Jo in Bleak House.

After checking on the BFI’s archive database, she found the film had been wrongly dated as 1902 and was under the alterative title of Man Meets Ragged Boy.

The film shows Joe dying in the freezing snow against a churchyard wall.

As he falls to the ground a local watchman tries to help him and cradles him as he dies.

The footage, which is believed to have been shot in Brighton, was directed by film pioneer George Albert Smith.

It was handed to the BFI in 1954, by a collector in Brighton who had known Mr Smith.