Listen To Britain: And Other Films By Humphrey Jennings
Humphrey Jennings was one of the greatest figures in the celebrated British documentary film movement, and he is most remembered for the way his work reflects the concerns and conditions of World War II-time in the United Kingdom. He is undoubtedly of great historical importance, but the ultimate justification for the present gathering of work is that Jennings was a wonderful filmmaker who made uniquely beautiful films. Contained within this one man was a seemingly impossible array of artistic abilities. He had a poet's command of film language, a painter's eye for evocative imagery and composition, a musician's ear for rhythm and tone and counterpoint, a Soviet's sense of juxtaposition, a journalist's nose for the concrete and the factual, and a compassionate man's love for the people he portrayed.
It may seem paradoxical that an artist of such positively romantic parts should have labored almost exclusively in the documentary realm, with all that it implies of subordination to subject and sponsor. But Jennings' particular talents emerged at a time of very particular need, and that seeming subordination to a cause is in fact the key to the continuing resonance of his work. In the incongruous coupling of the Cambridge aesthete and the British propaganda machine, both parties turned out to be anxious to compromise for the sake of the union. In these pictures, Jennings' impressive aesthetic arsenal helped to expand the scope and the vocabulary of documentary. In turn, the documentary idea, especially in time of war, served to focus and direct his aesthetic impulses to public ends. The result was a short, shining, perfect marriage.
FILMS INCLUDED IN COLLECTION:
London Can Take It! (1940 - 9 Minutes)
Words For Battle (1941 - 8 Minutes)
Listen To Britain (1942 - 18 Minutes)
Fires Were Started (1943 - 70 Minutes)
A Diary For Timothy (1943 - 39 Minutes)
Family Portrait (1951 - 26 Minutes)
Bonus Film: Myra Hess Playing the First Movement of Beethoven's Sonata in F Minor No. 57 (Apassionata) (1945 - 9 Minutes)
Please note that the sound of these films is of less than normal quality by today's standards. However, we used the best material available from the British licensors and are proud to offer them for their historical and artistic value.
Produced for DVD by David Shepard