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The Orwell of cinema

Celebrating the film-maker Humphrey Jennings and his wartime explorations of the British character. He was the Poet Laureate of 1940s cinema

By Kevin Jackson   January 2001

In may 1941, the English film-maker Humphrey Jennings took time out from work on his new documentary, Listen to Britain, to write to his wife Cicely, who was in New York with their two small daughters for the duration of the war. Morale on the home front, he told her, was not too bad; even so, there was unfortunately “still a bunch of intellectuals here who are afraid of becoming patriots.” Unabashedly, indeed ferociously highbrow himself, Jennings was not an irate jingoist grousing about the intelligentsia as a whole. Rather, he felt distaste for that segment of it which-out of…

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