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FIRES WERE STARTED a night of free east end Claridge related films curated by David Collard
14 July 2016 @ 12:00 am
Stepney residents speak straight to camera in this ground-breaking 1935 documentary.
One of the earliest films to feature real-life working class speakers, unscripted and eloquent about the slums, a few years before the Luftwaffe’s radical demolition programme.
If War Should Come¬Ý(1939)
Home Front propaganda short – how to prepare for an air raid. The message being:: “Keep Calm and Do as You’re Told”. Marked contracts to the pervious short, this is bombastic and (even by 1930s standards) overbearing.
These are the Men¬Ý(1943)
Dylan Thomas scripted this jaw-dropping and hilarious anti-Nazi short, recycling footage from¬ÝTriumph of the Will to debunk Hitler and his henchmen. If you’ve ever seen the internet meme adding satirical subtitles to a ranting F√ºhrer¬Ýin¬ÝDownfall¬Ý– this is the original!
Listen to Britain¬Ý(1943) The director Humphrey Jennings was once described as “the only real poet that British cinema has yet produced” and this beautiful short, devoid of any commentary, is his masterpiece.
Fires Were Started¬Ý(1943) Also directed by Humphrey Jennings, this brilliant drama-documentary is set in and around Poplar and the docks and depicts the men and women in the National Firefighting Service unit based in Wellclose Square, E14. Funny, moving and eccentric. Jennings captures the tough solidarity and casual bravery of the firefighters – not the usual upbeat propaganda.
The climax, a blaze in an explosives warehouse on Trinidad Street, has become part of our collective memory, endlessly re-cycled in documentaries about the Blitz. See it here in its original context.