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Dover, Spring 1947

Dover gets a makeover in this offbeat and pointed public information film.

Documentary 1947 11 mins


Dover made over: this quirky and pointed public information film reveals how the heavily-bombed and shelled Kent town was being replanned after the war. The filmmakers cleverly and entertainintly capture our attention by opening on travelogue cliches that they quickly undercut. It's not white cliffs and rolling hills they want to tell us about. It's present-day Dover - remaking itself in the crisp freshness of a postwar spring.

This was one of the first wave of government films commissioned through the Central Office of Information (COI), formed the previous year. Mary Beales (1926-2014) was only 20 when she directed this film (the daughter of famous economist HL Beales, she later, as Mary Orrom, became a successful sculptor). She was a junior member of DATA, Britain's first film production co-operative, who hoped to make accessible but politically progressive and creatively original postwar documentaries - a plan that never really came off, mainly because the COI and most other film sponsors didn't want to pay for anything too offbeat. But this early DATA production, helped by Wolfgang Suschitzky's characteristically sharp camerawork, captures a little of what the filmmakers were after. 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.