Humphrey Jennings & Stewart McAllister
United Kingdom, 18 min

This film was made for a Canadian audience to show how, on the other side of the Atlantic, Britain was facing up to the Germans, and to its historic task, in what had become a world war. A staggering piece of audiovisual orchestration without dialogue, Listen to Britain becomes a sort of abstraction unifying all opposites: war and peace, town and country, Queen and people, music and mere noise…

Listen to Britain was made for a Canadian audience. Its purpose: to show those on the other side of the Atlantic how Britain was facing up not only to the Germans, but to its historic task in what had become a world war. This film, which contains no dialogue (apart from the prologue), carries to an extreme the semantic ambiguity for which the ‘poet of the Blitz’ is well-known, all in a staggering piece of audiovisual orchestration. The war becomes a sort of abstraction, spiritual and carnal, unifying all opposites: war and peace, town and country, Queen and people, music and mere noise… At no time does this unanimity require a single interpretation: the viewer is free to associate one image with another, as in the waking-dream state dear to the Surrealists. Declaration of love or man’s poetic genius, Listen to Britain invents a British style of realism: let us listen to this gritty realism, which expresses, with humour and modesty, brotherly feeling for the masses and an aristocratic sense of the individual. To be alive, to be free, to be cultured: that is what we are fighting for.

Laurent Roth

Translation BMP Translations

Duration
18 min
Year
1942
Country
United Kingdom
Section
Port Franc
Languages
English, German
Production
Ian Dalrymple