Listen to Britain: The Understated, Oh-So-Very-British Propaganda Film

And now for something completely different.  The next film on the list is Listen to Britain, a 1942 propaganda film (for those of you who failed your history exams, that's smack dab in the middle of World War II).  It clocks in at about 19 minutes, and manages to earn a position at #408.  Not too shabby.

Listen to Britain uses music and non-linear footage to depict a day in the life of Britain during the Blitz.  It almost looks like newsreel footage, except that what they're filming isn't anything particularly noteworthy.

We're treated to a compilation of everyday people during World War II.  There's lots of shots of soldiers and factories (no doubt to remind civilians of the tremendous sacrifices of the war effort) but also of children, music being performed, dancing, women - basically everything people would be motivated to fight to preserve.  I'm no expert on propaganda films, but I have seen a fair few (these are the things you end up watching when you double major in film and history), and there's definitely something a bit unique about this one.  There's no bombastic score, with a melodramatic narrator telling you why Britain is the greatest country in the world.  Instead, it uses everyday images and the familiar caught on tape to show the public why Great Britain deserves to be fought for, rather than just telling you why it does.  From the reception of this film, it's clear that it was pretty effective.  And in a lot of ways, it reflects the British national character.  What's more British than having a really rather understated sort of propaganda film that's all very "Keep Calm and Carry On"?

Random Musings:

  • Wait a minute, are those American GIs singing Home on the Range?! Oi, you lot, there's no room for all the Allied forces - you've only got 19 minutes to get me all patriotic and ready to die for King and Country.  Leave the Yanks to their own films.

  • Awww, little English schoolchildren playing and dancing in the schoolyard.  It warms the cockles of my zealous, nationalistic heart. (Or so I would say if I were English and living in 1942.)

So that's it for me.  (Yes I know, it's short, but it's a nineteen minute film with no story.  I'm not a superhero. There's only so much to talk about.)  Pop back around next time for Suspiria. (I'm going into Halloween mode now.)  Thanks for reading!

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