AskDefine | Define newsreel

Dictionary Definition

newsreel n : a short film and commentary about current events

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A short film containing news or current affairs; especially one of several shown in sequence.
  2. The genre of such films.


Extensive Definition

A newsreel is a documentary film that is regularly released in a public presentation place containing filmed news stories.
Created by Pathé Frères of France in 1908, this form of film was a staple of the typical North American, British, and Commonwealth countries (especially Canada, Australia and New Zealand), and throughout European cinema programming schedule from the silent era until the 1960s when television news broadcasting completely supplanted its role.
The first official British news cinema that only showed newsreels was the Daily Bioscope that opened in London on 23 May 1909. In 1929 William Fox purchased a former Broadway theatre called the Embassy. He changed the format from a $2 show twice a day to a continuous 25 cent programme establishing the first newsreel theatre in the USA. The idea was such a success that Fox and his backers announced they would start a chain of newsreel theatres across the USA. The newsreels were often accompanied by cartoons or short subjects.
In some countries, newsreels generally used music as a background for usually silent on-site film footage. In some countries, the narrator used humorous remarks for light-hearted or non-tragic stories.
An example of a newsreel story is in the film Citizen Kane (which was prepared by RKO's actual newsreel staff), which includes a fictional newsreel that summarizes the life of the title character, Charles Foster Kane.
In 1948 NBC launched a 10 minute television programme called Camel Newsreel Theatre that featured newsreels. Later the show produced their own news film. Newsreel cinemas either closed or went to showing continuous programmes of cartoons and short subjects, such as the London Victoria Station News Cinema, later Cartoon Cinema that opened in 1933 and closed in 1981.






From 1925 to 1930

  • UFA Wochenschau

From 1930 to 1933

  • UFA-Tonwoche
  • Deulig-Tonwoche
  • Fox Tönende Wochenschau
  • Emelka-Tonwoche
  • Tobis Wochenschau

Nazi Germany

  • UFA-Tonwoche (Until 1940)
  • Die Deutsche Wochenschau – (The German Weekly Newsreel) A reel is housed in the Motion Picture Collection of the Harry S. Truman Library, (MP85-1), and includes historic footage of the Allied landings and combat at Normandy France, July 1944, from the German perspective. The reel was captured by US troops. It is a 16 mm, sound, black and white reel that lasts 16 minutes and 49 seconds.
  • Welt im Film
  • Neue Deutsche Wochenschau
  • Die Zeit unter der Lupe
  • Blick in die Welt
  • Welt im Bild
  • UFA Wochenschau
  • Fox Tönende Wochenschau



Netherlands Indies

Netherlands New Guinea

New Zealand


  • Filmavisen


United Kingdom


newsreel in German: Wochenschau
newsreel in Esperanto: Kinoĵurnalo
newsreel in Italian: Cinegiornale
newsreel in Hebrew: יומן קולנוע
newsreel in Dutch: Filmjournaal
newsreel in Japanese: ニュース映画
newsreel in Swedish: Journalfilm

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

3-D, Cinemascope, Cinerama, Technicolor, Western, animated cartoon, black-and-white film, cartoon, chiller, cinema, color film, creepie, documentary, documentary film, educational film, feature, film, flick, flicker, horror picture, horse opera, motion picture, motion-picture show, movie, moving picture, nudie, photodrama, photoplay, picture, picture show, pornographic film, preview, short, silent, silent film, skin flick, sneak preview, spaghetti Western, talkie, talking picture, thriller, trailer, underground film
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