This film is part of Free

Aids - Monolith

Portentous imagery and John Hurt’s grave voiceover define this key film from a £5 million campaign to combat the AIDS epidemic.

Public Information Filler 1987 1 mins


John Hurt narrates this highly-charged and doom-laden advertisement from the first major UK AIDS awareness campaign, launched in early 1987. A cliff-face explodes in slow motion; an industrial drill bores into a huge block of rock; the word 'AIDS' is chiselled into the polished surface of a granite headstone and a "Don't Die of Ignorance" leaflet drops onto the surface along with an elegiac bouquet of white lilies. The solemnity of the accompanying voice-over quells any vestiges of ambiguity.

The film was the result of a £5 million cinema and television campaign aimed at combating the growing spread of HIV/AIDS. With restrictions around the overt promotion of condom use on television and a growing chorus of moral campaigners promulgating their own agenda, the straightforward and doom-laden approach was probably the only viable option for campaign mastermind Sammy Harari. But the result was a hard-hitting and memorable campaign which undoubtedly fulfilled its brief of pervading public consciousness. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.