Land of Promise

This extensive collection is a major retrospective of the British documentary film movement during its period of greatest influence. 

A slimline reissue of the Land of Promise collection, featuring 40 films over four DVDs, this extensive collection is a major retrospective of the British documentary film movement during its period of greatest influence. These films – many of which are made available here for the first time since their original release – capture the spirit and strength, concerns and resolve of Britain and its people before, during and after the Second World War. Bearing witness to the social and industrial transformations of a rapidly changing world, these fascinating historical documents are all striking for their different approaches to the form.

Using poetry, dramatic reconstruction, modernist techniques and explicit propaganda, the filmmakers found fresh, new ways to get their message across. Bringing together celebrated and less-known works from such luminaries as Paul Rotha, Humphrey Jennings, Ruby Grierson, Basil Wright and Paul Dickson, this landmark release is accompanied by a 92-page book of essays by leading film historians and experts.

A companion collection, Shadows of Progress: Documentary film in post-war Britain 1951-1977, is also available on BFI DVD.

Complete film listing:

Disc one

  • Industrial Britain (Robert Flaherty, 1931)
  • Shipyard (Paul Rotha, 1935)
  • Workers and Jobs (Arthur Elton, 1935)
  • Housing Problems (Arthur Elton, Edgar Anstey, 1935)
  • Children at School (Basil Wright, 1937)
  • Farewell Topsails (Humphrey Jennings, 1937)
  • Today We Live (Ruby Grierson, Ralph Bond, 1937)
  • Eastern Valley (Paul Rotha, Donald Alexander, 1937)
  • People of Britain (Paul Rotha, 1936)
  • If War Should Come (no director credited, 1939)

Disc two

  • Britain at Bay (Harry Watt, 1940)
  • Transfer of Skill (Geoffrey Bell, 1940)
  • They Also Serve (Ruby Grierson, 1940)
  • Tomorrow is Theirs (James Carr, 1940)
  • Words for Battle (Humphrey Jennings, 1941)
  • Ordinary People (Jack Lee, J B Holmes, 1941)
  • Five and Under (Donald Alexander, 1941)
  • Night Shift (J D Chambers, 1942)
  • The Countrywomen (John Page, 1942)
  • Summer on the Farm (Ralph Keene, 1943)
  • Listen to Britain (Humphrey Jennings, Stewart McAllister, 1942)
  • Builders (Pat Jackson, 1942)
  • Words and Actions (Max Anderson, 1943)
  • A Diary for Timothy (Humphrey Jennings, 1946)

Disc three

  • Land of Promise (Paul Rotha, 1946)
  • The Balance (Paul Rotha, 1947)
  • What a Life! (Michael Law, 1948)
  • The Dim Little Island (Humphrey Jennings, 1948)
  • Britain Can Make It (No 1) (Francis Gysin, 1946)
  • Fenlands (Ken Annakin, 1945)
  • Children’s Charter (Gerard Bryant, 1945)
  • Chasing the Blues (J D Chambers, Jack Ellitt, 1947)
  • Cotton Come Back (Donald Alexander, 1946)
  • Five Towns (Terry Bishop, 1947)

Disc four

  • A Plan to Work On (Kay Mander, 1948)
  • Mining Review 2nd Year No 11 (Peter Pickering, 1949)
  • From the Ground Up (no director credited, 1950)
  • Transport (Peter Bradford, 1950)
  • The Undefeated (Paul Dickson, 1950)
  • Family Portrait (Humphrey Jennings, 1950)

Special features

  • John Grierson at the NFT (1959, 13 min): The ‘father’ of documentary addressing a packed audience at the National Film Theatre.
  • Close-up: Recollections of British documentary (2007, 40 min).
  • 92-page book with essays, biographies and notes.
  • Dolby Digital mono audio (320 kbps).

Product information

    • Certificate

      Exempt

    • Colour

      Colour

    • Sound

      Sound

    • Running time

      720mins

    • Subtitles

      English for the hard-of-hearing

    • Original aspect ratio

      1.33:1

    • DVD region

      • 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories

    • Catalogue number

      BFIVD911

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