Directed by: Humphrey Jennings
Countries & Regions: United Kingdom
Studio: British Film Institute
Length: 213 mins
Region: Region B
Released: 15 July 2013
Cat No: BFIB1121
Hard of Hearing Subtitles: English
Screen ratio 1:1.33
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The Complete Humphrey Jennings: Volume 3 - A Diary for Timothy
Collection of documentary shorts from British film-maker Humphrey Jennings. The films in this volume comprise: ’The True Story of Lili... Read More
Summer 2012 unveiled Danny Boyle’s justly celebrated Olympics Opening Ceremony, which Humphrey Jennings fans quickly realised was also a global showcase for the great poet-documentarist’s ideas, such as his ‘Pandaemonium’ portrait of industrial Britain, his co-founding of Mass Observation and his eye for the potent juxtaposition of seemingly disparate material. Volume 3 of his complete films spans 1944-50, when Jennings died following a location-scouting accident: in keeping with its completist remit, the BFI has included The Good Life (1951), the film that he was preparing at the time.
The recurring topics are music and postwar uncertainties. The former is tackled by The True Story of Lili Marlene (1944), the bizarre story of how a song played on German radio as a morale-booster was co-opted by the Allies, by Myra Hess (1945), a Beethoven sonata movement performed by one of the war’s great cultural figures, and by part of The Dim Little Island (1949), a reflection by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, artist Osbert Lancaster, naturalist James Fisher and industrialist John Ormston on Britain’s continuing cultural and global importance in a much-changed postwar landscape.
This was the key theme of Jennings’ last half-decade, expressed most eloquently in the masterly A Diary for Timothy and his Festival of Britain-commissioned swansong Family Portrait (1950), the ‘family’ being the British nation. The Cumberland Story (1947) takes a different angle, examining the history and aftermath of the 1837 Workington mining disaster, while A Defeated People (1946) examines the challenges faced in rehabilitating Germany after total military defeat – a defeat that seemed far from certain at the time of The Eighty Days (1944), when V-1 rockets were being aimed at Britain.
And so concludes the BFI’s survey of Jennings’ films; the hole that was once one of British film history’s glaring gaps now definitively filled.