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4.6 out of 5 stars41
4.6 out of 5 stars
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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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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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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 11 January 2016
Big nationalised industries usually had film units whose job was to record and to produce PR, training and informational films about their work. The General Post Office, the National Coal Board and the British Transport Commission, for example, all had large scale film units. Roughly speaking, these are the equivalent of today’s corporate video industry. Most of the films for the general public were exhibited via 35mm film prints in cinemas supporting feature films and as 16mm prints for rental to church halls, schools and film societies. Much of their output was truly magnificent and one of them even won an Academy Award ('Wild Wings' 1965). Others were directed by mainstream film industry talent (John Schlesinger, 'Terminus', 1961).

But perhaps the best known of them all is ‘Night Mail’, a 1936 documentary film about a mail train from London to Scotland, produced by the GPO Film Unit. W. H. Auden wrote the voice-overed verse. Benjamin Britten scored the film. 'Night Mail' documents the way the post was distributed by train in the 1930s, focusing on a train on the mainline route from Euston station to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. External shots include many of the train itself passing at speed down the tracks, some interesting aerial views, with interior shots of the sorting van (actually shot in studio).

This was a labour of love. The poem, the pictures, the track sounds and the music are all synced up. The poem's rhythm imitates the train's wheels as they clatter over track sections, beginning slowly but picking up speed so that by the time of the penultimate verse the narrator is at a breathless pace. "This is the Night Mail crossing the border / Bringing the cheque and the postal order." As the train slows toward its destination the final verse is more sedate. Britten, Auden and the editor, Basil Wright, worked tirelessly with endless re-writes of verse and music to get it right. 5 stars.
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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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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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on 27 April 2013
An excellent production, but probably of rather limited appeal, because it will be suitable solely for those that possess more than one functional neuron between the ears. I had seen the original film many years ago - but this production includes interesting information regarding its' development & production; the disk also contains other interesting material of similar type.
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on 25 February 2010
Brilliant, I remembered this from long ago. Very nostalgic. Did we really used to speak like that? Excellent and recommended.
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on 18 April 2014
An interesting DVD which has been very well restored. It's good to to see how our mail was transported and sorted. Now road transport is used. I wouldn't think it is a good idea to clog up our roads with heavy transport when we still have a rail service. This is a very good DVD for anybody interested in how things were done in days gone by.
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on 9 December 2014
Excellent collection of old and contemporary films featuring the working lives of men (and some women) and all the operations involved in transporting mail by train. Highly recommended. The actual Night Mail feature was a classic in in it's day. Looks a bit worn and clunkily edited now by present day standards.
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on 19 October 2012
I bought this DVD for myself as I have always wanted a copy after watching it at the York Railway Museum. Their loss was it was out of stock in their shop.

It is really up there is the all time greats of classisc railway memobrilia and obviously shot in black and white - fantastic.
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