173 Great Directors: Humphrey Jennings

“I have found people extra helpful and extra charming in war time. They are living in a more heightened existence and are much more prepared to open their arms and fall into someone else’s. To that extent … they are better film material, and the emotion that they themselves are feeling is part of the emotion that we indeed are always attempting to use and propagate about life.”


What Got This Director Here?
: Body of work in general.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Uh, I’ve seen plenty but liked none. Listen to Britain?

What Did I Watch: Fires Were Started, the last of his really acclaimed works.

Where Does He Fit: Humphrey Jennings’ films just have not aged well. The so-called poetry of his editing and documentary style that was used for shameless propaganda has approximately the same effect on me as the so-called revolutionary editing in Birth of a Nation, except this is legitimately honoring heroes rather than the KKK even if both films ultimately bore me. The actual firefighting scenes do contain a certain splendor, but ultimately, the lack of a sense of humanity means this isn’t very good propaganda. How are we supposed to care for these people? I suppose this might have meant more back in the days of the war, but he’s not for me.

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Most Valuable Asset: Morale booster.
Most Excited For: Nothing, really.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: No. Overrated as hell.

Coming Up Next: Jean Rouch, a more experimental and angry documentarian.

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