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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...

The Silent Village

... ... The grimmest in tone of all Jennings' work and essentially a fiction film, The Silent Village is both a memorial and message. ... ... ... The Nazis destruction of the Czechoslovakian mining ... More »

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 »

Dim Little Island

The post-war world seemed to have little time or space for Jennings' films. By the end of the turbulent forties, the mood of Britain was changing profoundly, and his cinematic songs of unity and ... 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 »

This Is England

This often underrated work is the prototypical Jennings' war film yet its powerful overlay of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on shots of Coventry Cathedral's wreckage and its climactic defiant battle cry ... More »

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