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Listen to Britain

UK, 1942 (MIFF 1995, Buried Treasures - Humphrey Jennings)

Director: Humphrey Jennings

One of the most brilliant syntheses of Jen­nings' and collaborator Stewart McAllister's talents. Eschewing commentary and dialogue (with the exception of a brief introduction added after its initial rejection by the Ministry of Infor­mation) the film was a 'recording experiment and conceivably the first documentary to use an 'anticipatory soundtrack'—where you hear over one shot the sound belonging to the next.

In kaleidoscopic transitions, from Myra Hess playing Mozart in a National Gallery concert to the ragged strains of conversations and music in an army mess, images music and sound com­plement and counterpoint each other. Jennings' most sublimely realised film it could be described as a moving image photo album of Britain set to the random turning of a wartime radio dial.

See also...

English Harvest

... ... Shining with the soft hues of early colour and with Jennings evident love of the English landscape, each shot's composition reflects the classical balance and harmony of the romantic ... More »

Diary for Timothy

... ... A fitting conclusion to Jennings' war record, this film of old death and new life-a war ending and rebirth-takes the form of a story addressed to a new-born child, recounting the sacrifices ... More »

Spare Time

... ... With little natural sound-the soundtrack consists largely of music from onscreen sources-and sparse commentary, the film shows how people spent their non-working hours. Overflowing with songs ... More »

London Can Take It

... ... Jennings' great wartime work really began with London Can Take It. Along with Watt he made this, the first of the home-front war films to make its mark. A one-reeler shot in haste, the film ... More »

FIRES WERE STARTED

... ... Jennings' first dramatised feature concerns the events of one afternoon and night during the blitz of London in 1943. It concentrates on a small team of the Auxiliary Fire Service and makes ... More »

Words for Battle

Eight minutes of movie magic. We see con­temporary (1941) footage while we hear Lau­rence Olivier recite an idiosyncratic selection of English literature and the Gettysburg Address to the ... More »

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