British Empire in Colour

British Empire in Colour

2002, History  -    -  Playlist 48 Comments
Ratings: 7.67/10 from 60 users.

British Empire in ColourFollowing the success of the Second World War in Colour series, TWI/Carlton have produced this documentary charting the history of the British Empire.

Notwithstanding the fact that perhaps a better title would have been the British Empire in the twentieth century or The Fall of the British Empire, this is a wonderful addition to the imperial historian's library or to that of anyone interested in this fascinating period of history.

The programme is divided into three different parts, starting at the height of the empire when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India to the handing back of Hong Kong in 1997. The rise and fall of the greatest empire is portrayed with all of its contradictions and shows how Britain today has become a multi-cultural society as a result.

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Ed L
4 years ago

Surprisingly, viewers are in disagreement over the "meaning" of this particular, subjective rehashing of history. There is only one history: theirs.

Johnty Dee
5 years ago

The more this 'documentary' goes on the more twisted is its rubbish. Britain might have invaded Egypt because of Suez but Israel's reason for doing had nothing to do with Britain's imperial interests. Egypt had been conducted terror raids on Israeli civilian installations on its border with Sinai for years and the world did nothing about it. That was Israel's motivation for the Sinai campaign, France and Britain served their imperial interests that excluded any concern for murdered Israeli civilians by Egyptian terror. Furthermore arab complaints about palestine were completely specious. The arabs got 99.9% of Ottoman possessions but their grievance was that the Jews got the other 0.01%. Absurd and ridiculous. Britain, arabs and the producers of this propaganda are nothing but anti-Semitic and systematic, lying trash. The more this 'documentary' goes on the more lies that are propagated.

Johnty Dee
5 years ago

This 'documentary' is a pack of lies. It describes the UN partition of palestine in 1947 as not being accepted by anyone. A flagrant untruth. The Jews accepted partition (and not for the first time that their territory was reduced) whilst the arabs did not. Also it whitewashes British perfidy and the fact that the British did not promise the arabs anything 'West of the precinct of Damascus' and British business in Palestine was solely for the purpose of fulfilling the Balfour Declaration that was in the treaty pre-amble of Sveres and signed unanimously by all League members and Turkey and the arabs into International Law and further confirmed by the treaty of Lasaunne in 1925. The British encouraged illegal arab infiltration into palestine, disarmed Jews and armed arabs, fomented unrest because it wished to hold onto the territory in order to control the Suez Canal and its gulf oil interests.

British soldiers were kidnapped by Zionists because the exasperated Jews saw that Britain refused to honour its international obligations, worked against legitimate Jewish interests and encouraged arab terror and murder. This 'documentary' is a mockery and a revision of British historical malfeasance and criminality regarding British conduct in post war palestine and not worth the film it is recorded on.

6 years ago

On another note, if the British Empire was so oppressive and racist, I wonder why citizens of former colonies (like India, Pakistan, Nigeria, etc.) are scrambling to get admitted to the country of their former oppressors instead of enjoying independence back in their home countries (a rhetorical question) :)!

6 years ago

A highly educational documentary on the demise of a great empire that had brought civilization and culture to many savage corners of the world (just consider the fight against slavery (an endemic practice) in India or the crackdown on thugees and widow-burners in India. The symbolic question of "what have the Romans ever done for us" has nowhere else been more relevant than in former British colonies.

8 years ago

Well Euro/Anglo/imperialism is not dead, it is just taking a longer time to realize. There are and will be continuing, not so subtle changes as the 'Project for the New American Century' comes to fruition. The western banking cartel as long since been established and now has direct control of the finances and also the laws meant to regulate it.

Militarily it started with 9/11 and then two wars which were preemptive invasions of sovereign nations all on the pretext of an imaginary but useful war on terror to first, establish western control over 70% of the world's oil. We are seeing the beginning of the 4th Reich in America with the creation of Homeland Sec and the Patriot act, which is called that to cast anyone who a traitor.

The idea of world empire is not dead at all, it has just changed its address and now has the single most powerful navy and military ever built with its power and funding expanding exponentially. (more than doubled since 9/11) That is the plan for the 21st century and it's geopolitical goals are just getting started.

9 years ago

Great footage, but the spin was very anti-British

10 years ago

not even a looker in the bunch,English are ao ugly

Alex Edmunds
10 years ago

One cannot dismiss a contruct on the grounds it was socially constructed. Rape's socially constructed but it doesn't follow it's not wrong. A concept once conceived is often very real in sense. I passionately disapprove of racism as I do all hierarchical conceptions of social structure and believe it's very useful to understand the development of our language (and thus ideas). Why not take this all a step further though and divorce ourselves from all forms of social hierarchy. By this I mean to say, divorce ourselves from the idea that one 'group' - itself a social construct may I add - is of higher status than another. There are many examples of inter group conflict other than racism resulting from this. Religion, age, gender, cults, education, city, are all dividing lines. Of course, I'm no fool and the state monopolises violence and protects the liberties of all these parties so to be clear, I'm not saying these are the same as the racism of the past but merely highlighting a theme and part of the cause.

Elle Jones
11 years ago

In reply to Racism:
Race is a social construct and has nothing to do with biology, whatsoever. Race only began when whites began to explore and found/saw persons of non-white skin tone and referred to them all or many of these people as either of the terms, "Black", "Brown", "Yellow" or "Red". That's how race was constructed and from there on has derived a very negative connotation due to its practices to hold persons of color out of very vital parts of society and its well being. Racism equals power. Speaking as a multiethnic woman that has studied race for the greater part of my educational career, I have read and researched the exact causes of racism and I know who can and cannot be racist. White people, in the US as well as the UK, hold most of the political power as well as structural power, so racism only applies, when something harshly prejudicial is spoken or happens, to whites. However; persons of color; African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Multiracial and all persons associated with color, can only be prejudice. Is it wrong to hold prejudices? Yes, by all means. But can persons of color be racist? No, they cannot.

Papa Giorgio
11 years ago

bible prophecy full-filled by Jehovah's word the two headed dragon us & uk
living in the last days !the last human empire on the face of earth

11 years ago

Panders to what educated people are supposed to think of "Empire" these days. The documentary doesn't mention the good things that the British did for India -- the historians, linguists,educationists, ethnographers, geographers, and yes, those who gave India a modern government -- these and many more were British.

11 years ago

so thats where all the tigers went

11 years ago

Most Historical International Empires last about 200 years. Americans take note ... all empires ultimately fail. Many Empires have failed in much shorter timespans.

11 years ago

only white people aren't allowed to be "racist" but when other races act the same it's "normal"

11 years ago

I am so tired of all of this white racism talk. Ask your average Chinese citizen what they think of African people. Ask your average Indian what they think of Arabs. Ask any Black man what they think of white people. Ask any race what they think of another race and inevitably you will be met with racism. If you think the East is the way forward to an era of tolerance and prosperity you have a rude awakening coming. Could things be better than Western domination? Definitely!! Will things be better when the corrupt and race dominated politics of the East regain world power? Absolutely not!! Look at virtually every country of Asia and you will find oppressed ethnic minorities or religious minorities. Western society isn't perfect but we are trying to improve, the East has no intention of changing its ways. Ask the Uyghur people of China, the Karen or Burma, the hill tribes of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Wake up and open your eyes to reality and stop with the glorification of Eastern society. There is a reason that hundreds of millions of Asians apply for western residence every year!!

11 years ago

Well worth watching for some excellent footage from around the world, much of which I've never seen before. Some sad scenes - death, destruction, children crying - some amazing plummy British accents and terrible racism - war dances - cavalry displays - pomp and ceremony.

In Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World (2011: Bodley Head, London) Nicholas Shaxson shows how Britain only appeared to relinquish its colonial holdings, but actually kept financial control through various methods.

In his own words: "How colonialism left through the front door, and came back in through a side window" (p1)

Incidently, as an antidote to empire, in my recent book, DOG Sharon: The Future is Female (paperback and E-book - see Amazon) I argue that we need to move away from traditionally male perspectives of competition, conquest and domination and adopt what are usually thought of as femine values of nurturing, cooperation and support for the weakest.

I will be publishing a Womanifesto shortly and hope to discuss these ideas with some of the filmmakers contributing to this brilliant site.

11 years ago

Oh god. Get over it people. What is done is done. The British did what every European power did at the time, stop looking at their actions through a 21st century context and pretending as if your "superior" for recognizing the faults of the British Empire. As if, back in 1850, you would have not supported it. What is important to do when looking at history is NOT TO input your contemporary values into analysis of a time very different from our own.

11 years ago

The atrocities and superiority-complex of the british is the legacy that has caused many wars in the post second world war world. For the same they have never felt the need to apologize.
Now that we see the so-called "First-World" descending into poverty the tables have turned and a new world order has come around from the ashes of the 20th century and its blood-bath.
The so-called "colored" races will be soon running the world and it would be a peaceful time and perhaps another golden age when the europeans descend to their dark ages and East recovers it place as the leaders of peace, prosperity and unity.
What really happens in the Middle-East is anyone's guess, but it surely wont be the "Anglo-Saxon" world they imagined.
Unless we as a species realize that color and race is not the defining factor we will not survive. Perhaps the Fallout3 will be our sad reality.

11 years ago

It's simply fascinating to watch people compare the British empire to that of America's. There is NO comparison. How history has failed our younger generation is so depressing for me.

11 years ago

The bigger picture is much more interesting.

We are now seeing the decline of the the American empire ( an empire in all but name ) created during the cold war. Where pro american dictators were propped up eg the Shah in Iran leading to the Iran revolution as well as american support of Israel creating the huge tide of anti american feeling we see today throughout the middle east.

Personally I am pro american but you take your poison and accept the consequences. The US has always had good intentions but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The British are all to aware of this.

As a N. Ireland citizen i am well aware of the issues within the UK I and Scotlands upcoming referendum.

The British during the Boer wars invented the concentration camp. not something to be proud of. I think you misunderstand my position . I am not proud of what the British did during the years of Empire. I simply believe that they followed the views of the time and that our ancestors were all to blame because of their racist views . If it had not been the British it would have been some one else and we are luckty it was not the nazis or the Japanese of the 1940s.

11 years ago

Empire day.... pathetic.

11 years ago

Its always been so easy to blame everything on the British but unfortunately many of the issues reflected the racist attitudes of the era. Our ancestors of whatever nation were racist and believed these attitudes were acceptable but any logical person has moved on. Britain realised before many of the other colonial European nations that the empire was no longer viable and had to be dissolved. Britain led the way in this regard.

The Slave Trade Act was passed by the British Parliament on 25 March 1807, making the slave trade illegal throughout the British Empire, Wilberforce also campaigned for abolition of slavery in the British Empire, which he lived to see in the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. After the 1807 act abolishing the slave trade was passed, campaigners switched to encouraging other countries to follow suit, notably France and the British colonies.

People need to wake up and accept the fact that problems in their own societies are not he fault of some bogey man from their past and are due to the human condition and deal with the issues they see around them and move on.

11 years ago

Many international problems today descend directly from the break-up of the British Empire. Their snobbery of the and lack of understanding of the "heathens" they governed lead to the creation politically unstable borders guaranteed to generate discontent and conflict well into the future.