Tate Britain
(Visual Arts)
Andre Breton
Royal Mail
Roland Penrose
Lindsay Anderson
(Movies & TV)
Karel Reisz
(Movies & TV)
Frank Cottrell Boyce
(Movies & TV)

See also

Humphrey Jennings

Knowledge Identifier: +Humphrey_Jennings


Humphrey Jennings

English documentary filmmaker and one of the founders of the Mass Observation organisation add

Category: Movies & TV

Born in 1907.

Countries: United Kingdom (75%), France (13%), Czech Republic (13%)

Education: undef.

Main connections: Tate Britain, Andre Breton, Royal Mail

Linked to: Pembroke College, Cambridge, University of Cambridge, Information Today, Inc.




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Humphrey Jennings was born in 1907 add something


Jennings married Cicely Cooper in 1929; the couple had two daughters add something


His films appear strikingly different from the 'social critique' approach which typified the documentaries of Grierson and his "school" of the 1930s and the feature films of the 1960s and '70s such as Lindsay Anderson's" This Sporting Life" or Karel Reisz's "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" add something


He joined GPO Film Unit, under John Grierson, in 1934, largely it is thought because Jennings needed the income after the birth of his first daughter, rather than from a strong interest in film add something


In 1936, Jennings helped with the organisation of the 1936 Surrealist Exhibition in London, in association with André Breton, Roland Penrose and Herbert Read add something


It was at about this time that Jennings, along with Charles Madge and Tom Harrisson helped found Mass Observation and co-edited with Madge the text "May the Twelfth", a montage of extracts from observer reports of the 1937 coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth for Mass Observation add something


In 1938 he edited an issue of the "London Bulletin" which included a "collection of texts on the Impact of the Machine" and he used this material to prepare a series of talks to miners in the Swansea Valley while making "The Silent Village" add something


The GPO Film Unit became the Crown Film Unit in 1940, a film-making propaganda arm of the Ministry of Information, and Jennings joined the new organisation add something

Humphrey Jennings died in 1950 add something


Jennings was described by film critic and director Lindsay Anderson in 1954 as: "the only real poet that British cinema has yet produced add something


A fiftieth anniversary edition of this text was published in 1987 by Faber add something


After 2001 this situation was partly rectified: firstly by the feature-length documentary by Oscar-winning documentary-maker Kevin Macdonald, "Humphrey Jennings: The Man Who Listened to Britain" ; and secondly by Kevin Jackson's 450-page biography "Humphrey Jennings" add something


In 2003 two of his films, "Listen to Britain" and "Spare Time", were included in the Tate Britain retrospective, "A Century of Artists' Film in Britain" which featured the work of over one hundred filmmakers add something


The Macdonald documentary is included in the Region 2 DVD of "I Was a Fireman" released by Film First in 2008 add something


The book was cited by writer Frank Cotrell Boyce as an influence in the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony with an early section of the ceremony named after it add something


On 14 May 2014, his 1939 film "Spare Time" was one of those chosen to be oommemorated in a set of Royal Mail stamps depicting notable GPO Film Unit films add something


The edition of BBC Radio 4's "Great Lives", on 18 December 2018, was devoted to the life of Jennings add something