This film is part of Free
A new start for Britain: this film tells us what to expect from a great new public service.
Just as World War Two needed its propaganda films to inform and enthuse the home front, so too was ‘peacetime propaganda’ required to proclaim and explain the new welfare state. Though taking the form of a scripted drama, films like this would have been classified at the time as documentary. This interesting example was filmed in South Wales, though set in places and hospitals with made up names – and containing performances by non-professionals playing not exactly ‘themselves’ but characters with the same professional role. Notably the main role of idealistic GP Dr Collins is played by a real doctor, Dafydd Thomas.
This ‘story documentary’ approach was a familiar format from wartime filmmaking. In truth, it's an engagingly odd film. The framework is disorienting: a flashback to an extremely recent past, but including dream-sequence flashes-forward to the present. And for a film celebrating the arrival of a great public service it's strangely downbeat. A brooding melancholy seems to hover over everything, undercutting the undoubtedly sincere idealism of the filmmakers. Look out at for a film industry in-joke at approx. 14:50: referencing John Grierson, founding leader of the British documentary movement. 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.