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Fires Were Started (99 Edition)by Brian Winston
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
Humphrey Jennings (1907-50) was perhaps the most gifted filmmaker of the British documentary movement. Involved in the Mass Observation project of the 1930s, Jennings' talent lay in picturing ordinary life in ways that were inventive yet authentic. Fires Were Started (1943) is his major achievement. A film about a day's work for a unit of the National Fire Service at the height of the blitz, it blends observation with fictional reconstruction to achieve a particularly poignant kind of propaganda.
Lindsay Anderson expressed the opinion of many commentators and viewers when he wrote in Sight and Sound (in a 1954 article reprinted as an appendix to this volume) that Jennings was "the only real poet the British cinema has yet produced." But how could a documentarist also be a poet?
This is one of the questions addressed by Brian Winston in his highly engaging study of Fires Were Started--a question that is particularly relevant today in the wake of the massive public controversies surrounding "faked" documentaries. For Winston documentary filmmaking is always "creatively treated actuality" and must be taken as such if it's to be properly valued and understood.
This work suggests that Humphrey Jennings' re-enacted documentary about the London Blitz, Fires Were Started, is an understated propaganda masterpiece. The book provides an account of how Jennings recaptured the reality of the Blitz for his cumbersome camera through a process of meticulous research.
Brian Winston argues that Fires Were Started (1943), Humphrey Jennings' re-enacted documentary about the London Blitz, is an understated propaganda masterpiece whose documentary value remains undimmed, despite the reconstructions required by film technology 50 years ago. Winston describes exactly how Jennings recaptured the reality of the Blitz for his cumbersome camera by means of meticulous research and with extraordinary sensitivity.
About the Author
Brian Winston won an Emmy for documentary scriptwriting and is the author of Claiming the Real (1995) Technologies of Seeing (1996), Media Technology and Society (1998) and Lies, Damn Lies and Documentaries (2000). He is Head of the School of Communications at the University of Westminster.
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