Monday, August 24, 2009

Harry Watt and Basil Wright

Still picture from Night Mail
from the 1936 film Night Mail

Night Mail (1936) depicts modernity, or at least what modernity looked like when the film was made. John Grierson was involved in every aspect of the production, using his protégés Harry Watt and Basil Wright to direct. W.H. Auden wrote the train-rhythm poem; Benjamin Britten composed the score. The film exemplifies "Griersonian" documentary, showing a still-fascinating process (a train racing through England delivering letters) and the humanity and camaraderie of workers. The film has a strict construction; its didactic tone is tempered by the lyricism of the music, poetry, and landscape.
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Documentary Starts Here by Nancy Kalow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.