GPO Film Unit  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



The GPO Film Unit was a subdivision of the UK General Post Office. The unit was established in 1933, based on the Empire Marketing Board Film Unit and was headed by John Grierson, and was set up to produce sponsored documentary films on a variety of subjects.

Among the films it produced Harry Watt's and Basil Wright's Night Mail (1936), featuring music by Benjamin Britten and poetry by W. H. Auden is the most famous. Directors who worked for the unit included Humphrey Jennings, Alberto Cavalcanti, Paul Rotha, Harry Watt and Basil Wright. Laurie Lee also worked as a scriptwriter in the unit from 1939-1940.

In 1940 the GPO Film Unit became the Crown Film Unit, under the control of the Ministry of Information.

In Autumn 2008 the British Film Institute issued a first collection of selected films from the Unit. Titled "Addressing The Nation", it comprises fifteen titles from the years 1933 to 1935. A second volume, "We Live In Two Worlds" was released in February 2009, with 22 films covering the period 1936 to 1938, and includes Night Mail. A third (and final) volume is in preparation.



Year Title Director Notes
1940 Air Communique Ralph Elton
Britain at Bay Written by J. B. Priestley
The Front Line Harry Watt
London Can Take It! Humphrey Jennings & Harry Watt Oscar-nominated for Best Short Subject 1941
Spring Offensive Humphrey Jennings
War and Order Charles Hasse
1939 The City Ralph Elton
The First Days Pat Jackson, Humphrey Jennings & Harry Watt
Forty Million People John Monck Narrated by Ralph Richardson
The Islanders Maurice Harvey
Love on the Wing Norman McLaren Animation
Men of the Alps Alberto Cavalcanti
A Midsummer Day's Work Alberto Cavalcanti
Spare Time Humphrey Jennings
Squadron 992 Harry Watt
1938 Four Barriers Alberto Cavalcanti
Mony a Pickle Norman McLaren & Richard Massingham Animation
North or Northwest Len Lye Comedy
North Sea Harry Watt
1937 Book Bargain Norman McLaren
Job in a Million Evelyn Cherry
The Line to Tschierva Hut Alberto Cavalcanti
News for the Navy Norman McLaren
The Saving of Bill Blewitt Harry Watt Drama, starring Bill Blewitt as himself
Trade Tattoo Len Lye Animation
We Live in Two Worlds Alberto Cavalcanti Written by J. B. Priestley
1936 Message from Geneva Alberto Cavalcanti
Night Mail Harry Watt & Basil Wright Written by W. H. Auden. Music by Benjamin Britten
Rainbow Dance Len Lye Animation
1935 Air Post Geoffrey Clark
Coal Face Alberto Cavalcanti Written by W. H. Auden
A Colour Box Len Lye Animation
The King's Stamp William Coldstream With Barnett Freedman
1934 Pett and Pott: A Fairy Story of the Suburbs Alberto Cavalcanti Comedy, starring J. M. Reeves, Marjorie Fone and June Godfrey
Locomotives Humphrey Jennings
Song of Ceylon Basil Wright
The Story of the Wheel Humphrey Jennings


External links

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "GPO Film Unit" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools