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Duration 00:02:02

Pathé: Chelsea Arts Ball Aka Our Famous Felix The Cat (1922)

Look back at New Year’s celebrations from 100 years ago!

The National Archives education team’s film of the month highlights a Pathé film relating to current events, anniversaries or key topics that you may be covering in the classroom.

This month’s clip is titled ‘Chelsea Arts Ball Aka Our Famous Felix The Cat’ and comes from the dawn of 1922. Chelsea Arts Balls were artistic fancy dress parties held either on Mardi Gras or New Year’s Eve. In this film, students of the Royal College of Art drag along a large model of Felix the Cat, a cartoon character at the peak of his popularity around this time.

With this film, students could consider:

  • What are the costumes of the people in this film like? How similar or different are they to what we would wear to a fancy dress party today? How similar or different do you think they were to what other people in the UK would wear in 1922?
  • Who was Felix the Cat? What clues can you find in the film about his popularity at the time?
  • What does this film tell you about leisure and popular culture in the early 1920s?
  • What does the presence of women at the ball suggest in terms of access to higher education for women?
  • Look closely at the street scene in the beginning. What can you see on the road? How do these streets compare to our streets today?

This film could be used for studies of the 1920s alongside our two Twenties Britain bundles (Part One, Part Two). It can also be used alongside The National Archives’ new 20sPeople events programme and upcoming exhibition.

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