This film is part of Free

Johnny Barleycorn

A delightful animated appeal to help bringing in Scotland’s harvest, made by the legendary Lotte Reiniger.

Documentary 1950 1 mins


Prepare to roll up your sleeves and bring in the sheaves, inspired by this gorgeous animated job advert. Its curious mix of Scottish city landscape and Weimar woodcut style is thanks to its German-born creator Lotte Reiniger, in a departure from her more familiar silhouette technique. Though best known for her pioneering animated feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) and fairy tale shorts, Reiniger was no stranger to publicity films from her time in both Germany and Britain, for example H.P.O. (1936).

The film was commissioned by Scotland’s Department of Agriculture, which engaged in an extensive publicity campaign in print and cinemas to tackle a shortage of farm labour in the postwar period. In some cases children were granted leave from school to bring in the precious crop of 'tatties'. But this film speaks to more adult workers, and makes use of stirring reversion of the traditional John Barleycorn folk song – though with only subtle references to its association with alcohol. It is left to Reiniger to make an intoxicating use of walking tea tables and gallivanting money bags to convince the audience to follow Johnny to the fields.