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Humphrey Jennings

(1907—1950) film-maker, painter, and writer


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(1907–50) Film-maker, painter, and writer, widely considered the leading figure in British documentary film of the 1930s and 1940s, also active in Surrealism and co-founder with Charles Madge in 1937 of Mass Observation, the influence of which is apparent in his Spare Time (1939). Jennings's wartime films, Listen to Britain (1942), Fires Were Started (1943), and A Diary for Timothy (1945), combine stirring patriotism with a wry view of war's incongruity. His last films, Dim Little Island (1949) and Family Portrait (1950), reflected on Britain's post-war prospects before a fatal accident on location in Greece cut short his career. A collage text on the impact of the Industrial Revolution, Pandaemonium, appeared posthumously and Kevin Jackson's fine biography (2004) explores his Cambridge cultural milieu, including close friendship with William Empson.

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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