This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 3769).


Amateur footage, in black and white and colour, shot and edited by Rosie Newman, of her travels in India, 1935.

The film opens with the arrival by ship in Bombay, with shots of the harbour, the tug, disembarkation, street vendors, an Island Mosque, a Parsee burial place, street scenes and the Taj Mahal Hotel. The film continues with brief shots of a snake charmer, a child's head being checked for lice, the Willingdon Club, The Aga Khan, Bombay racecourse and the Bombay railway station. Shots of buildings in New Delhi including the Viceroy's House (with interior views), panning shots over the city and extensive shots of the Viceregal Gardens (with Lady Willingdon). A review of the Viceroy's bodyguard. The opening of the Delhi Horse Show. Views of Old Delhi including the Fort, the Jami Masjid Mosque, Purana Kila (sic. Purana Qila), Humayuan's tomb, the shrine of Nizam-ud-din Aulia. Aircraft in formation over the New Delhi Aerodrome. Shots of the Kutab Minar (sic. Quatab Minar/Qutb Minar) and various views of the Taj Mahal. The fort at Agra. Scenes at Alwar railway station with shots of various signs indicating segregated water supplies ("water for hindoos" sic. Hindus). Scenes in and around Udaipur (Rajasthan), including film of the H.H.Guest House with prisoners in chains working in the gardens, the Old City walls, street scenes, Jaganath Temple (sic. Jagdish Temple), the Maharana's Palace, elephants, Maharana's stable, panning shot over the city, views of the city from a rowing boat, Marble Island Palaces (?), water-wheels in operation in the surrounding countryside, wild monkeys, the Maharana's shooting box on lake Jai Samand (Jaisamand ?), herons and a primitive bamboo canoe on a lake. Scenes in and around Ajmer (Rajasthan), the Residency, changing the guard at the Residency, children and women washing on the beach, street scenes, temples, fakirs and a sunset. Scenes in Jaipur State, the Palace, the Maharajah of Jaipur, the Princes and Princess of Jaipur with their attendants, King George II of Greece, the City wall, dying cloth in the street, street scenes, pigeons, policeman directing traffic, Old City Palace, peacocks and a procession including elephants, camels and ritual dancing. Scenes in and around Amber (Rajasthan), members of the party riding on an elephant, the Maharajah and Maharanee of Indore, the Maharajah of Kapurthala's Palace, the Maharajah of Kapurthala (?), Prince Armajit and his baby (?), street scenes, the City Palace, the Tikarajah's garden and Palace, the Tikaranee and her daughters (?), the river at sunset, Jullundur railway station, brief shot of Rosie Newman with her camera, various scenes in the station including a "refreshment room for gentlemen" and a man demonstrating tying his turban. Scenes in and around Bhopal, the Guest House, the Palace, scenes in the silk market and a mosque. Scenes during a tiger shoot, King George II of Greece and the Nawab of Bhopal, the shooting party on foot, the beaters, lunch, a dead tiger shot by the King of Greece, brief shot of a tiger in the forest and a sunset. Departure scenes in Bombay, a shot from the stern of the liner and a sunset over the Indian Ocean followed by the caption "Travelling through from end to end, as we have done, one realizes the gigantic task Great Britain has already achieved in bringing Unity and Modern Civilization into this Great Indian Empire. The King Emperor's name will live there for ever.'Lives of great men all remind us; We can make our lives sublime, And, departing leave behind us footprints in the sands of time.'" The film ends with a brief shot of a Union Jack.


A caption/shot list and transcripts of other introductions to this film made by Rosie Newman, as well as information on Rosie Newman and her films are held in the Production Office.

Lady Marie Willingdon, wife of Lord Willingdon, Viceroy and Governor General of India 1931-36.

Shot on 16mm B&W and Kodacolor



Though the circumstances of their creation mean they must undoubtedly be regarded as amateur productions, in many other respects the films of self-taught filmmaker Rosie Newman (1896-1988) demand recognition as something rather more than home movies. Filmed and edited with a view to public exhibition, and soundtracked with music scores provided by wind-up gramophone, Newman’s productions occupy an unusual position: they fall quite some way beyond the limit of the privately filmed and viewed home movie, but short enough of the professional studio release to still seem unaffected and raw. 

Newman was showing her films to paying audiences by the late 1930s. Her reputation as an amateur filmmaker of note was burnished during the Second World War when she succeeded in obtaining unique permissions (including official sanction from the Ministry of Information) to film military activities on the Home Front and to record events in wartime Britain. Her film of the war, including extraordinary footage of the London Blitz, was edited into her most famous production, Britain at War (IWM, MGH 3773), which she exhibited publicly in various versions from 1942 onwards (Fish, 1997, 33).

Born into a wealthy and well-connected family, Newman had taken up filmmaking as an ‘amusing hobby’ in 1928, when a trip to Morocco prompted her to purchase a 16mm camera. The result was her first film, ‘an amateur travelogue which was typical of wealthy travellers of the period’ (ibid., 27; this film is held by the IWM as MGH 3768). Glimpses of India, also in the travelogue mode, was the fruit of an extensive trip to India in 1935, where she and her mother were received as guests of the Viceroy, Lord Willingdon. It was apparently Willingdon who encouraged Newman to show her work publicly, and Glimpses was the first of her films to be exhibited to a paying audience. Screened at various public locations including the Royal Geographical Society and Grosvenor House (where it was shown ‘under the auspices of the East India Association’; Newman, 1941[?], 5), the money raised from ticket sales was donated to charity. According to a note in Newman’s accompanying book (also titled Glimpses of India), showings of the film raised over £6000 for various charities, and in the first two years of the war a further £2000 was donated to the Red Cross (ibid., endpiece).

Newman’s time in India was spent in the highest echelon of Raj society. Her itinerary took her from Bombay to Peshawar via Madras, Calcutta, Dehli, Darjeeling, Varanasi, Udaipur and Jaipur. Newman and her mother had palaces, official residences and royal barges placed at their disposal. Mixing with Maharajas and Governors, attending sumptuous banquets, spectacular official events and even going on a tiger shoot with the King of Greece, the account presented in the book reveals an Imperial world of aristocratic luxury that was intimately linked with the extraordinary opulence of Indian princely privilege.

References to events or circumstances that indicate a different set of concerns and problems afoot in India occasionally appear in her text, but they are mentioned in passing, and left largely uncommented on; nevertheless, they puncture the happy Imperial equilibrium painted by the account. Peshawar is ‘surrounded by barbed wire entanglements’ and she travels with and armed escort (ibid., 26); a visit to the university in Calcutta is the occasion for ‘a sorrowful reflection that some of the students use the knowledge they acquire to spread unrest and discontent,’ and the pair are ‘impressed by the enormous responsibilities of the Governor of Bengal, and the need of his firm hand to keep terrorism in check’ (ibid., 13). Newman visited the Legislature in New Dehli, where the important Government of India Act (1935) was being prepared. There ‘a most interesting man, who had worked many years in the Indian Civil Service’ explained to her ‘how in his opinion, India under the new regime, would be a much happier country if not as efficient’ (ibid.,18). All of these asides imbue the largely idyllic and untroubled Imperial life of the main travel narrative with a sense of increasing unreality, transforming it into a picture of a world on which time is being called.

Perhaps most tellingly, at a banquet for 100 people held in Calcutta, she records a conversation with a fellow diner who impressed upon her ‘how even visitors leave their marks in India, sowing the seeds of either hate or respect, and how important it is for the individual to be human and tolerant. He added “We should all remember we are India’s guests”’(ibid., 13). The sense conveyed is not only that human consideration and tolerance on the part of ‘India’s guests’ had not always been in plentiful supply but also that guests, however enjoyable their sojourn may have been, must finally take leave of their host. 



Though remarkable both for being filmed in colour and for the exalted level of society portrayed, in the formal sense Glimpses of India is a travelogue of fairly typical stamp. The footage follows the itinerary of the trip chronologically and factually, and the title cards are informative, though often make light-hearted comment on the scenes depicted. Important personages and places are noted. The camerawork is a little shaky (especially on moving shots) and the composition is in general not as assured as that which can be seen in later films by Newman (it lacks, for instance, some of the confident directness that makes Britain at War so visually arresting).

Nevertheless, it is evident that Newman is often thinking about the intended final cinematographic image as she films, particularly in landscape or architectural shots which are often composed with a low horizon line and a large expanse of sky.  Images of people are often staged with the subject facing to camera, and frequently advancing toward it, producing an effect of great and somewhat uncomfortable presence, and making the viewer acutely aware of the filmmaker’s position. (At the other end of this scale are the often over-long renderings of architectural detail, which simply seem to reproduce on film the gaze of the visitor, rather than marking any engagement with the subject matter.)

Perhaps surprisingly, given the social circles in which she was at home, her eye is best (and arguably most empathetic) when filming ordinary folk. In this respect, the tone of the film is very different from the book (and indeed occasionally the title cards), for Glimpses of India is at its most vital when Newman’s camera is trained on street scenes and everyday activities. When the upper classes appear, they are posed and presented rather stiffly, and occasionally – as with the case of the portly Aga Khan, who stands before the camera in a white suit, vainly practising his golf swing – appear somewhat ridiculous. Newman’s camera takes far greater delight in the quotidian. A man wrapping his turban on a station platform; a traffic policeman shaded by an umbrella affixed to his waistband; an impressively moustachioed man eating a meal (Newman takes a near-ethnographic interest in the way he handles his food); these and numerous other minor dramas are all captured with an absorbed and curious interest. The plentiful scenes of empty ornamental gardens and impressive but lifeless official dwellings seem arid by comparison, and not only, one suspects, to the viewer.

Francis Gooding. With thanks to Jane Fish.


Works Cited

Fish, Jane. "' looked more natural.' Miss Rosie Newman's colour film of the Second World War" Imperial War Museum Review no 11, 1997

Newman, Rosie. Glimpses of India: The Story of the Film (London: Atheneaum, 3rd ed., undated)




Technical Data

Running Time:
75 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
Colour (part B&W)
1900 ft

Production Credits

Newman, Rosie
Newman, Rosie