Watch Humphrey Jennings Listen to Britain

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11/23/2007 7:00 AM |

This evening and for the remainder of the weekend, Anthology Film Archives will hold a retrospective featuring the films of the British documentarian Humphrey Jennings. Jennings applied the “city symphony” impressionism of prewar documentary to his portraits of the British nation during the second world war. Poetic realism, with a very left-leaning emphasis on the daily existences of the lower classes, was a dominant intellectual and artistic mode of the time; working during the war (in particular the London Blitz) makes Jennings a particular exemplar of the form, in that his focussed on civilian populations during a war that was endured, and fought, by all British citizens, at a time when his nation’s values (and art) were very much at stake. Tonight’s program features several shorts, including his seminal Listen to Britain, and a separate screening of his sole feature, Fires Were Started (pictured), “a story of one particular unit of the National Fire Service during one particular day and night in the middle of the London blitz”.