My friend and colleague, Jaap, asked me for a list of favourite films…luckily I am the sort of person who makes lists…and I had this to hand…I’ve added a note of any post that I’ve already made about the films.
My friend and colleague, Jaap, just asked me to compile a list of my favourite film documentaries on youtube. Here’s the list I posted to him…they’re not all railway films, but there are a few…I’ve made a note against the title of each film to warn anyone who isn’t that interested in trains…
The documentary form is about the only type of cinema in which Britain is recognise dinternationally as having made a real contribution…the potential of documentary was identified by Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays in the aftermath of WW1. The potential was enthusiastically embraced, in Britain, by Stephen Tallents of the Empire Marketing Board and, subsequently, the GPO.
I’ve written about this period of film and design history and worked with the Post Office Archive and Museum at Mount Pleasant in London.
That reminds me, they have their own underground railway!
My favourite film from this list is the GPO film, Night Mail, for its complete integration of image, movement, music and word…my second favourite is the French film, Pacific 231, by Jean Mitry…the opening sequence of this film is brilliant, with its machine-noise soundtrack antipating the kling-klang of Kraftwerk…
Back in 2011, I bumped into Michael Portillo on the train at Folkestone…he was filming one of his journeys…they’re all on Box of Broadcasts…and also the later ones around Europe, and also the ones around the USA.
Actually, that’s me suitting behind him and wearing my beret!
I’ve posted before about these television films, here
Michael Portillo isn’t doing anything new…it was all done brilliantly in the 1950s and 1960s by John Betjeman…and subsequently by many others. I just noticed that, at the bottom of the post below, I describe Michael’s US train trip. Grr!
The most interesting TV film made by Michael Portillo has been about his own family in Spain and the dramatic impact of the the bombing of Guernica, and the positive effect of Picasso’s great painting…all around the world.