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Diary for Timothy

UK, 1945 (MIFF 1995, Buried Treasures - Humphrey Jennings)

Director: Humphrey Jennings

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 and struggles of the British people, yet celebrating the fact that it looks as if the worst is over.

A scriptless creation—Jennings was always out shooting and the pattern eventually took shape in the cutting room-the commentary written by E.M. Forster (read by Michael Redgrave) is sad and tinged with sentimentality, but Diary For Timothy is more than typically complex. In one sequence, he brilliantly fuses two totally dis­parate wartime events—the introduction of the German's V-2 (a faster than sound missile that was raining silently down on London), and a popular production of Hamlet that was then play­ing at the Haymarket Theatre with John Gielgud—and what so easily could have been a conceit becomes a stroke of cinematic genius.

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 »

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 »

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 »

Listen to Britain

... ... 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 ... More »


... ... 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 »

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 »

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