The film till now : a survey of world cinema by PauL Rotha, Richard Griffith

By PauL Rotha, Richard Griffith

The movie until eventually Now [by] Paul Rotha, with an extra part by way of Richard Griffith.

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The Ministry of Information had as one of its main aims the influencing of subjects for commercial studio production. Technicians employed in the feature studios were just as much working under terms of temporary deferment from military service as were the documentary people; and some of them felt, I believe, that their films, Page 49 SURVEY OF WORLD CINEMA although coming under the category of entertainment, should none the less be a direct contribution to the war effort In perspective, however, some of the British films so often quoted as being examples of the fiction-documentary marriage were ' documentary ' only in the sense that their subjects were typical of something which had happened, and that from time to time units left their studios and shot in actual surroundings.

While I am the last person to deny this impor tance of the film for non-theatrical exhibition, with all its growing specific tasks of education, information and expla nation, I nevertheless believe that it would be a thousand pities if the chapel-like atmosphere that has been allowed to enshroud the non-theatrical side of documentary were per mitted to overshadow the virile, impulsive desires that give rise to the dramatic documentary which can inspire the millions in the ordinary cinemas. The immediate post-war years of British documentary will not shine brightly when the overall story comes to be told.

American films, some ten and twelve years old, are flooding French cinemas as they have flooded ours. One's sympathy goes out to Gremillon, Clair, Autant-Lara, Came, Clement, Rouquier and the other gifted French film-makers; their sense of frustration must be hard to bear. Of the Soviet cinema in the thirties, in many ways a disappointment after the memorable films of the Potemkin Page 32 SURVEY OF WORLD CINEMA to Storm Over Asia period, Griffith has his comments to make later. Here let me say only how regrettable it is that so little opportunity now comes our way to see even comparatively recent work by Pudovkin, Dovjenko, Donskoi and the others.

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