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The British Documentary Film Movement, 1926–1946
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  • 29 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 228 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.51 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 791.43/53/0941
  • Dewey version: 19
  • LC Classification: PN1995.9.D6 S88 1989
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Documentary films--Great Britain--History and criticism

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521334792 | ISBN-10: 0521334799)

The most important and internationally influential development in British cinema was the documentary film movement led by John Grierson in the 1930s and 1940s. Paul Swann's study is a political and social history of this movement, which was characterized by actuality-based films made outside the commercial industry. Based upon examinations of official government records, this book provides a fascinating picture of how Grierson manipulated the civil service bureaucracy both for his own ends and, in his view, for the good of his country. The documentary movement was both a socially conscious group intent upon raising the consciousness - and consciences - of viewers, and something like a film school, providing opportunities to fledgling film-makers. Working in reaction to the escapist Hollywood films that then dominated British screens, the documentary film-makers drew upon traditions such as Soviet realism and the European avant-garde and used ordinary men and women instead of actors.


Preface; Acknowledgments; 1. Introduction: the British documentary film movement; 2. The empire marketing board film unit, 1926–1933; 3. The general post office film unit, 1933–1937; 4. The general post office film unit, 1937–1940; 5. The 'independent' documentary film, 1932–1939; 6. The British documentary film, trade propaganda, and national projection, 1926–1939; 7. The documentary movement during the war, 1939–1945; 8. Conclusion; Appendix; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

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