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The General Post Office Film Unit Collection Vol.2 - We Live In Two Worlds [DVD]

Len Lye , Norman McLaren    Exempt   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
Price: £11.05 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

The General Post Office Film Unit Collection Vol.2 - We Live In Two Worlds [DVD] + The Gpo Film Unit Collection: Volume 1 - Addressing The Nation [DVD] + The General Post Office Film Unit Collection Vol.3 - If War Should Come [DVD]
Price For All Three: £32.25

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Product details

  • Directors: Len Lye, Norman McLaren, Henry Watts
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 23 Feb 2009
  • Run Time: 257 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001MK9ZHG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,094 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


A collection of short films produced by the GPO Film Unit. The BFI National Archive, in partnership with BT, Royal Mail and The British Postal Museum and Archive, has curated and restored the output of short films produced by the GPO Film Unit from 1933-1940. The unit provided a spring board to many of the best-known and critically acclaimed figures in the British Documentary Movement, including John Grierson, Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Wright and Harry Watt, alongside innovators and experimentalists such as Len Lye and Norman McLaren. This, the second of three volumes, contains the following titles: 'Rainbow Dance' (1936), 'Saving of Bill Blewitt' (1936), 'Calendar of the Year' (1936), 'Fairy of the Phone' (1936), 'Night Mail' (1936), 'Roadways' (1937), 'Trade Tattoo' (1937), 'Big Money' (1937), 'We Live in Two Worlds' (1937), 'N Or NW' (1937), 'A Job in a Million' (1937), 'Book Bargain' (1937), 'What's On Today' (1938), 'Love On the Wing' (1938), 'The Horsey Mail' (1938), 'Heavenly Post Office' (1938), 'News for the Navy' (1938), 'Mony a Pickle' (1938), 'North Sea' (1938), 'Penny Journey' (1938), 'The Tocher' (1938) and 'Gods Chillun' (1938).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch for Harry Watt 25 Oct 2011
An extremely well presented anthology of GPO documentary shorts from the late 30's when creativity was at its highest. Standouts are the 3 titles by Harry Watt: the famous Night Mail, The Saving of Bill Blewitt and North Sea, all of which would stand issuing on a single disc with an appreciation of the director, who is underrated today. Also especially noteworthy is the jaw droppingly surreal N or NW, the style and execution of which sometimes reminded me of some of the better known European avant-garde work of the Dadaists of a few few years before. Not all here is of equal quality however; a decided dud is Mony a Muckle - a confused contemplation of Scottish saving habits; as well as the dull Big Money, or JB Priestley's consideration of Switzerland as part of 'two worlds'. Prescient of the 'global village' his insight might be, but interest (at least on my part) in 30's Switzerland's infrastructure is slight. Plain bizarre is God's Chillun (victim of a chequered production history by all accounts), covering the legacy of the slave trade and which features a peculiarly ill-at-ease host. Humorously bizarre too, but at least much more entertaining, is The Fairy of the Phone, which ends in a peculiar song and dance sequence. (It's the film apparently in which WH Auden appears as Santa Claus - but you wouldn't recognize him from the brief clip.) In a collection full of the earnest contemplation of male toil, the couple of films which eschew realism in favour of humour and, yes even a little kitsch, are a pleasant contrast. The animated shorts are fine if you like the early style and methods they spring from but speaking personally, dancing shapes may have charm but limited appeal. There's an excellent booklet to accompany all this, need I add, and the restoration is excellent.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Volume two of a great trilogy 26 Nov 2010
By Colin Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
This great collection of 22 short documentary/docu-dramas were made from 1936-38, with running times of between 4 to 31 minutes, and are mostly connected with a common theme: the work and services provided by the G.P.O.

Some films extol the importance of the post office savings account, for example, "The Saving of Bill Blewitt" is the story of a Cornish village and its inhabitants, facing up to the problems of the slump in the 1930's, while the film "Mony a Pickle" features a young Scottish couple who dream of a home of their own, with the furnishings to go with it, with the "Thrifty Scot" stereotype trotted out.

In the theme of the posted letter, we follow a young boy's postcard, from his posting of it to its delivery, also, we see post for the navy, and we see a young lad training to be a messenger boy.
We also see the early days of the London telephone directory, which grows from a few pages to become a typical thick volume, add the odd "experimental" animated film, and this becomes a diverse collection, with the post, telephone communications, and the telegram nicely covered.
This collection also contains what is probably the G.P.O. film unit's most famous film - "Night Mail", as we follow the mail train's journey, accompanied by that famous W.H. Auden verse, with music provided by Benjamin Britten.
This is just a selection of these informative and charming films.

Here is a list of all the films, with a few details (All films were shot on 35mm film, and are black and white unless stated.) With good picture and sound quality.

Rainbow Dance (4 mins/colour/1936).
The Saving Of Bill Blewitt (24 mins/1936).
Calendar Of The Year (16 mins/1936).
The Fairy Of The Phone (12 mins/1936).
Read more ›
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addicts Beware 23 May 2009
Verified Purchase
I've wanted to buy this for some time and finally decided to treat myself and I was not disappointed, not by a long shot. This is one of those collections that keeps you changing your mind as to the films you like best. First it was one on disc one and then you discover something better on disc two. I love the way it shows how life used to be, the very simplicity of the way things were; or is it just that we were never really shown what went on as we are these days? To put it simply, this collection of the old GPO films is a real treat to behold, a trip into the more gentler years of the 1930s, a true peep into how things were and will never be the same again.

Personally it is a real joy for me watching films (collections) like these as they warm the very cockles of my heart. As a child in the 50s I loved going to the cinema and always enjoyed the whole experience as we were treated to a main film, a 'B' film, Pathe news, loads of adverts (some things never change) and the travelogue or short documentary. Great value for little money! If you are into nostalgia (like me), and I mean really into nostalgia (so very like me), you will love this collection. One word of warning though, once you begin to dip your toe into these nostalgic trips, it becomes almost impossible not to want more!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 27 Feb 2012
Wonderful. Lovely to be able to go back to days of long ago. Always wanted a copy of the GPO films after seeing them on daytime TV
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect transaction 30 April 2014
Verified Purchase
All went as well as it could go with this order. No delay, item arrived in condition as described and I have no reason for complaint.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very enjoyable
Published 5 days ago by Ianchad
1.0 out of 5 stars BBC con
BEWARE ... THE NIGHT MAIL stops after about 10 minutes. This is a typical dirty trick by the BBC. They know how popular this short film is so they give you a few minutes of it to... Read more
Published 8 months ago by sol
5.0 out of 5 stars History
It is strange to see these films now - nationalised service industries and the films that they used to communicate their ethos to the public, Interesting social historical pieces... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Patrice JL
5.0 out of 5 stars looks into future
I'm a german historian, but knew nothing about this part of british culture.
Documents of a special time and some really stunning looks into our future!
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Heritage DVD
I recently bought this box set to add to my husband's growing collection. He is very plessed with the content and quality.
Published on 21 Jun 2012 by I. S. Stringer
2.0 out of 5 stars Quite disapointed
Having obtained over the years quite a good collection of Post Office Film Unit video's and alike, I was disapointed with this particular episode of 'We live in two worlds' I did... Read more
Published on 8 May 2012 by P. Pollard
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage GPO films
If you are interested in seeing how England used to be (mainly in the inter-war period), seeing ordinary people doing ordinary things, this is for you. Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2012 by harrylimex
4.0 out of 5 stars window into a prewar world
I bought this for the Nightmail movie. The rest are a make weight. They remind me of the stuff we were making in a cine club in the 1970's. Read more
Published on 20 July 2011 by Lawrence Maunder
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 1930's collection
This collection on everyday life in the 1930's is well worth viewing just for the details of how people lived and worked in this period of great change between the wars.
Published on 18 Nov 2010 by Mr. D. J. Linnell
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