Things aren't what they used to be': Mr Bosley, village blacksmith at Corfe, near Taunton, is the subject of this informative yet quietly elegiac study of ancient craftsmanship. The commentary, spoken ( at least supposedly) by Mr Bosley himself, talks us through the process of shoeing a horse, as seen in spare, patiently composed images gracefully evoking an ageless sunlit Somerset day.
With such self-effacing cottage industry craftsmanship, director Peter Baylis deliberately reflects the film's subject in its form. The Blacksmith was one of an occasional series of 'Craftsmen' films produced by the Shell Film Unit, aimed particularly (although not solely) at classroom audiences. Shell's unit was one of the most prestigious in British documentary and industrial filmmaking, particularly noted for films which were only distantly connected - if at all - with its core business as an oil company. The Unit's filmmaking could switch with ease from an infectious excitement at the vibrancy of modern petrochemical-fuelled times to a gentle nostalgia for a world now transformed by the industrial revolution.