Oliver G Pike

Films - The White Owl, 1922 (silent, b&w, approx. 12 minutes)

The White Owl is, of course, the barn owl. The film consists of scenes from the life of an owl - nesting in an old windmill, hunting, feeding its young, and facing danger.

Oliver Pike used shots of the clock on the tower at All Saints church, Marsworth, where he lived when first married. He filmed a shot of an owl on a headstone at the church of St Michael and all Angels at Great Billington, only a mile from his home in Leighton Buzzard.

The White Owl and Churchyard

  A still image from the film The White Owl (copyright BFI National Archive) and the same scene today

Still from The White Owl

The White Owl,
a still from the film

At Great Billington in Bedfordshire, next door to the church, there lived a friend of Pike's who happened to keep tame owls. It is almost certain that this is one of them.

A scene at the end of the film is very impressive. The owl is perched on a branch, it is snowing, and he is said to be dreaming of Spring. A dissolve changes the scene, blossoms appear, and the owl is still there on the same tree.

The White Owl is available on the "Secrets of Nature" DVD published by the British Film Institute in 2010.