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Title: The aesthetic and intellectual influences on the documentary films of Humphrey Jennings, 1907-1942
Author: Logan, Philip C.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3612 1697
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2000
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Discussions about the early films of Humphrey Jennings refer to his artistic and intellectual background to explain the nature and scope of his film work. Such discussions, however, tend to rely on highly selective and partial information from existing accounts. This tendency has over time created a form of orthodox opinion, an opinion which tends to regard Jennings as an artist and intellectual who, prior to full-time involvement with film, collaborated and worked on a diverse series of artistic and intellectual projects spread across a wide range of subjects and disciplines. These activities are seen as symptomatic of a mind which could not remain focussed on one particular endeavour. However Jennings` early wartime films express in quintessential form many of his ideas, and through a distinctive form of poetic expression celebrate both the civilian response to and the need for national unity under the threat of invasion. The aim of this thesis is to revise the existing understanding of Jennings' artistic and intellectual background and challenge the prevailing interpretations of his early propaganda films between 1939 and 1942. It is hoped to reveal how his artistic and intellectual pursuits and his film work represent a sustained and coherent intellectual and artistic exercise focussed on the nature of artistic technique. This focus dates from the activities of his parents and continues through his educational experiences at school and university. Simultaneously this engagement with the arts was informed and influenced by contemporary economic, social, cultural and political events. It is these factors which inform the nature and scope of his filmwork. In artistic, intellectual and political terms the series of films Jennings produced and directed between 1939 and 1942 represent in style and form a fundamental challenge to John Grierson's understanding of the meaning, nature and role of the documentary and propaganda film. Jennings' challenge to the Griersonian ideal of documentary film also contests the political meaning behind both pre-war documentary and wartime propaganda notions of national unity and the future post war settlement.
Supervisor: Neale, Stephen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Wartime propaganda; Documentary; National unity