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4.6 out of 5 stars
Night Mail [1936] [DVD]
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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 January 2011
This is a small but fascinating collection of five short films, the first of which is possibly the most famous film produced by the G.P.O. Film unit - NIGHT MAIL, in which the 8.30pm mail train travels with 40 staff, we see the sorting of the mail as the overnight train travels from London to Glasgow, along the way we hear that famous WH Auden verse narrated at high speed, with music provided by Benjamin Britten.

The next four films are classified as extras, the first of which is THE WAY TO THE SEA, which features an early account of Portsmouth's association with the Navy, with the early building of a fortress at Southsea.
The next film is SPOTLIGHT ON THE NIGHT MAIL, which follows a letter posted on the night mail train at Euston station, we witness the preparation work on the Locomotive before it sets off on its journey, then eventually see the letter reach its destination in Aberdeen.
Up next is THIRTY MILLION LETTERS, the film opens in a sorting depot, then we see the improvised methods of keeping the mail service moving, with one remote community served by a bus with a postbox inside, the film rounds off with a postman delivering the post in blizzard conditions.
The final film - NIGHT MAIL 2, is an 80's update on it's more celebrated namesake.

Picture and sound quality are good, with English subtitles. Also included is a 24-page illustrated booklet with essays.
Here is a list of the films with brief details:

Night Mail (1936,B/W,23 mins).
The Way To The Sea (1936,B/W,15 mins).
Spotlight On The Night Mail (1948,B/W,17 mins).
Thirty Million Letters (1963,colour,28 mins).
Night Mail 2 (1986,colour,25 mins).
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144 of 147 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2008
Night Mail, which contains several other "shorts" as well as the title film, is a short collection of digitally remastered documentaries made in the 1930s and beyond concerning the travelling postal services on our railways. It is enjoyable to watch - you can almost smell the steam - and to listen to as well, with the characteristic clipped tones of documentary commentaries from the era. I wouldn't call it nostalgic as I wasn't born until the late 1950s, but it does make you feel somewhat wistful for a time when we took pride in our services like the railways and the mail, and importance was attached to them. Other shorts in the DVD depict related topics like the electrification of the Southern Railway.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2009
Imbued with nostalgia, these films were a part of my youth, appearing as shorts at cinemas and later on TV as information films. Whilst blatantly supportive of the institutions they portray, they nevertheless illustrate a time gone by and the ordinary folk who lived in those times. See the grimy and repetitive jobs that our forebears did and the stoic humour they used to get through their work days. Those were the days of employment for most, even though the job would now be done by a machine - if at all. There is much to be learnt from these films of a past Britain and the part railways played in it. Replay, unlike for most DVDs and videos, will always reveal new details and things you haven't thought of before.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2011
Night Mail [DVD]
The Night Mail - this DVD is a fascinating reflection of our past. One of the films made by John Grierson for the GPO - A steam train - a travelling postal sorting room - mail collected by the train as it passed by gantries furnished with "catching nets" and the sorted mail delivered into similar nets on the side of the line ready for delivery the length of Britain the action accompanied by the music of Benjamin Britten and the words of W. H. Auden - `This is the night mail crossing the border/bringing the cheque and the postal order! A gem which will interest steam train buffs and those who remember when a letter posted in the evening would be delivered promptly the next day!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2009
Night Mail - Collector's Edition Presentation Box [1936] [DVD]

I remember Night Mail as a child especially the verse by WH Auden and the music composed by Benjamin Britten. Very evocative of the golden age of steam. This DVD also has other short films related to the now defunct Royal Mail travelling post office trains. Excellent value for money for someone who is a student of documentary film history or just someone, like me, trying to re-capture their youth!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2009
The actual film is quite short but there is much else on the DVD as well. It is not so much about the trains but about how things were back in the 1930s or so. A fascinating social commentry as much as anything!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2010
A great film. This edition is a wonderful presentation. Pure nostalgia, my grandson was really fascinated with it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2009
used to work for the royal mail and this brings it home what it was to work for .smashing copy.the extras are all worth it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2010
Night Mail [DVD]
Just what I have been looking for after missing it in a TV broadcast, and it brought back memories of long ago. "It does everything it says on the tin."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2015
The subject matter was very good along with the narration, unfortunately there were some glaring continuity errors such as scenes obviously edited incorrectly showing engine numbers and lettering back to front. If it should ever come up for re-release then some film restoration would make this a first class nostalgic collection item.
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