Humphrey Jennings
United Kingdom, 39 min

In this film, Jennings imagines a war diary written for the son of a British serviceman. The diary begins on the child’s birthday, 3 September 1944, and covers a period of six months. The film is disturbing because the final impression it projects is that of the aimlessness of modern man: characterless, post-catastrophe man. Freedom raises its own problems.

In this film, Jennings imagines a war diary written for the son of a British soldier serving in the army. The child is born on 3 September 1944 near Oxford, and the diary begun on this date ends in the final days of February 1945, covering a period of six months. The destiny of the baby is linked with that of a wounded airman, Peter, a farmer, Alan, a miner, Goronwy, and an engine driver, Bill. To these very different lives is added the complexity of subject matter tackled by Jennings, punctuated by constant reminders of the passage of time, the changing seasons, news of the war now drawing to its close. A Diary for Timothy is the most complex film made by Jennings, and certainly the most poignant: his doubts about the world that would emerge from the war are still very much to the point. The film is disturbing because, as well as a polyphony of sound and image both real and imagined, the final impression it projects is that of the aimlessness of modern man:  straw man, post-catastrophe man. Freedom brings its own problems.

Laurent Roth

Translation BMP Translations

Duration
39 min
Year
1945
Country
United Kingdom
Section
Port Franc
Language
English
Production
Basil Wright