This film is part of Free

Building of a Liner

The precision and beauty of shipbuilding in Britain.

1938 9 mins


The precision, beauty and craftsmanship of shipbuilding come across loud and clear in this silent educational film. And the film has a certain precision and beauty of its own. At a brisk pace but in methodical and measured fashion it takes us through a liner's production process - from its elemental origins in metal and wood through manufacturing, assembly and fitting, culminating in a spectacular launch.

This film has a certain historical importance and curiosity value on account of being, in large measure, a re-edit of a much more famous one: Paul Rotha's documentary classic Shipyard (1935). Gaumont-British Instructional, producers of both films, would often cut 'public' and 'educational' versions of the same subject. They also frequently released films in both sound and silent versions; many 1930s classrooms had access only to silent projectors. Normally the various versions were pretty similar but Shipyard was radically different from the company's usual work - so it's interesting to see it re-edited here to conform to the house style. Though shorn of Rotha's modernist and socio-political concerns, it's a happy marriage between his majestic images and the production company's clarity of exposition.