Films by Humphrey Jennings | Chicago Reader

Films by Humphrey Jennings

Called British cinema's “only real poet” by filmmaker Lindsay Anderson, Humphrey Jennings captured the ordinary details of life on film and enlivened them with graphically intense compositions and editing that seem to owe a debt to Soviet 1920s montage cinema. Spare Time (1939) shows the British working class at leisure—reading comics, bicycling, playing the lottery—in a way that ennobles the ordinary. Listen to Britain (1943), codirected by Stewart McAllister and described in an intertitle as “the music of Britain at war,” includes spectacular cuts, such as from smokestacks to a wheat field, celebrating British productivity. Though often poetic, it evidences a dubious complacency, suggesting that everything about the United Kingdom is just beautiful. 80 min.

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