These are splendid examples of their type - the sort of thing we were often shown in school in the fifties. The main thing one notices is the faces - real faces of real people in real life; it show up the falsehood of reality TV. A number of the films use actors where required, although they are honest enough to say so - note, for example, Arthur Howard as a pension office clerk, and of course there are actual 'stars' in some of morale boosting episodes - note especially in Gielgud's Hamlet, George Woodbridge as the gravedigger, a part in which, according to Gielgud himself, he starred. Much as I enjoyed the films themselves, it is so sad to see that few of the 'promises' have been kept - note especially those about modern school buildings, class sizes and improved, affordable housing. Films showing work processes and industrial manufacturing techniques are especially fascinating - the sort of film which these days seem to exist only on children's television; there seems to be a horror of showing factual material material outside natural history programmes and suchlike, which is a great shame. The sound seemed fine to me - even using a laptop - the the images, although some were unsurprisingly, dulled a little by age, are often as haunting now as they were when they first appeared. I had a marvellous time watching these - how lucky we are that the films still exist to show just what a set of fine film makers we had then, and their reputations can only be enhanced by making these films available; more, please BFI.
This collection of 40 films, made between 1930-50, have running times that vary from 3 to 63 minutes.
Amongst the subjects covered here, are the lives of Britons before, during, and after the war. We find people in the 30's seeking employment in the labour exchange, we see the appalling living conditions in the slums, childrens education also features, and factory work is also shown.
From the mining industry, we move on to farmwork and countrylife, the preparation for war and the lives of the public during air-raids, and work in ammunition factories is shown. After the war, we see the country attempting to return to normal life, with films on the cotton industry and transport. All this and more is covered in this excellent, diverse collection of documentary/docu-drama's.
Picture and sound quality are good, with English subtitles. Also included is a superb 96-page booklet, with full details of all the films and the directors.
Here is a list of the films with brief details (all films are in black and white unless stated).
Industrial Britain (1931/20 mins). Shipyard (1935/24 mins). Workers And Jobs (1935/11 mins). Housing Problems (1935/15 mins). Children At School (1937/23 mins). Farewell Topsails (1937/colour/8 mins). Today We Live (1937/23 mins). Eastern Valley (1937/16 mins). People Of Britain (aka Peace Of Britain) (1936/3 mins). If War Should Come (1939/9 mins).
Britain At Bay (1940/7 mins). Transfer Of Skill (1940/10 mins). They Also Serve (1940/10 mins). Tomorrow Is Theirs (1940/9 mins). Words For Battle (1941/7 mins). Ordinary People (1941/27 mins). Five And Under (1941/16 mins). Night Shift (1942/14 mins). The Countrywomen (1942/13 mins). Summer On The Farm (1943/11 mins). Listen To Britain (1942/19 mins). Builders (1942/8 mins). Words And Actions (1943/14 mins). A Diary For Timothy (1946/37 mins).
Land Of Promise (1946/63 mins). The Balance (1947/9 mins). What A Life! (1948/11 mins). The Dim Little Island (1948/10 mins). Britain Can Make It (No 1) (1946/10 mins). Fenlands (1945/17 mins). Children's Charter (1945/16 mins). Chasing The Blues (1947/6 mins). Cotton Come Back (1946/25 mins). Five Towns (1947/26 mins).
A Place To Work On (1948/32 mins). Mining Review 2nd Year No 11 (1949/9 mins). From The Ground Up (1950/9 mins). Transport (1950/19 mins). The Undefeated (1950/34 mins). Family Portrait (1950/23 mins).
John Grierson at the NFT (1959).
Close Up: Recollections of British documentary (2007).
Another fascinating release by the BFI.
on 8 January 2011
As someone who usually asks for BFI dvds for birthdays and Christmas, this new release was a must.
I've always been into social history and the variety of styles and subjects presented on Land of Promise delivered the goods.
The selection is fascinating and despite being born in 1949 I can relate to so much of it. It stirred many memories as someone who lived on the edge of a post war housing estate alongside a lane used daily by farmers, with a mainline railway across a cow pasture and a colliery 2 miles behind that in semi rural South Yorkshire.
The only downside is that we still do not seem to have learnt from the message of the documentary makers!
on 17 January 2011
This excellently produced BFI 4 disc set is the major retrospective of British documentaries between 1930 and 1950 that is currently available.Most of the come from official and semi=official source.They not only reflected life as it was lived but greatly influenced public attitudes and opinions since they were shown in the cinema at a time when that was overwhelmingly the major source of public entertainment and information.We know of the "Hollywood Dream'engendered in many by American films ,but there was also a British Dream reflected in many of these films a determination that the peace as well as the war was going to be won in the sense that life after the war was going to be better than life before.Despite the fact that many of these documentaries are 'official' they very much reflect the changing mood in the country before, during and after the second world war
These documentaries are not only of interest to those who want to learn of their countries
past,of how we came to be the country that we are today,however but also show a valuable insight into the changes that were taking place in film technique , many of the pioneered by the documentary film makers well known now but highly innovatory then
Of course any collection of 40 films is bound to be of varying quality and appeal.My personal favourites are both directed by the great Humphrey Jennings .The first was 1942s "Listen To Britain ' which must be one of the most poignant pieces of propaganda ever made largely because it shows the lives of ordinary people faced with the most immediate peril but does not go in for overt preaching.It is interesting I think that another great film maker Terence Davis said that this was a major influence on his own acclaimed 'Of Time And The City. The other was Diary For Timothy which shows what the people of this country had fought for and what the hopes for the future were I suppose that this seems so poignant to me because as a wartime baby it did as much to influece my attitudes as the much vaunted 1960 s
Finally the highest praise for the production values. Great pains have been gone to to provide the highest possible technical values and the set is accompanied by an exemplary 96 page book which has full details of each of the films and some excellent essays on documentary film in this period.The Dvd s also contain extras which really do contribute something
All in all it is difficult to praise this set too highly It is a box set worthy of the name and will be a standard work for decades to come
on 19 December 2012
Any self respecting lover of film and film student should have this DVD. Not only is it a British social document in its own right, the films also reveal a great of insight into the art of film construction and production. Just about every camera angle, camera trick and movement etc, you'll ever see in main stream cinema were often developed and (first) used to great effect in documentaries. Some masterful direction is displayed on this DVD. If film making is not your thing, simply sit back and watch interesting snapshots of a long gone Britain, its people and aspirations that still resonate and engage us to-day..
on 28 November 2013
though beyond my time its a lovely set. it documents a history of the british documentary movement it clearly records our changed society and is very educational. Slum clearence being a perfect examlpe. The price alone is a bargain. The book enclosed is wworth the money alone. i find it hard to realise it was only 40 years ago. most of the production team invloved in each film had evolved into many famous filmmakers from british transport films to michael jacksons thriller video (Rob Paynter director of photography) It can be tearjerking yet amazingly accurate and was a first, to allow people being filmed to be able to be candid. Buy it you will be hooked on it plus if you have children they would realise that children were happier without their laptops,mobile phones,Barbie, the list is endless.
last point the children then looked happier.
a big thank you to all who brought us this set as i have the full set of British Transport films regarding the railways.
on 10 July 2013
Another first-class set of DVD's from the BFI. I watched these after reading Roy Hattersley's 'Between the Wars' which is available from Amazon, and they certainly convey as he does, something of the conditions that existed at the time.
Although most of are propaganda films made for the cinema, they are of immense value to anyone who like me has an interest in the social history of our nation.
I thoroughly recommend this set.
on 30 June 2014
On my sister's birthday present list so brought for her. It arrived quickly, undamaged, exactly as described and was a big hit with my sister.
on 10 September 2014
Excellent compilation, highly recommended
on 13 June 2013
View this throughout and you will know, and want to support them in all they do.
We british should buy up almost all BFI discs that are released.