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A small but excellent collection
on 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).