This film is part of Free
The Silent Village
The villagers of Cwmgiedd re-enact a Nazi massacre in Czechoslovakia, in Humphrey Jennings’ unforgettable propaganda film.
The villagers of Cwmgiedd, southwest Wales, are the stars of Humphrey Jennings’ unforgettably inventive drama-doc. At Lidice, Czechoslovakia, a mining community’s entire male population was executed by the Nazis in 1942. Jennings (often said to be Britain’s greatest documentary filmmaker) ingeniously retells the story as if happening in Cwmgiedd, whose inhabitants re-enact the tragic events.
It’s a brilliant counterfactual twist on the ‘story documentary’ format so often favoured by the wartime Crown Film Unit, not only expressing with great power and empathy the tragedy, bravery and moral importance of Lidice but also making unbearably palpable, for domestic viewers of the time, what is at stake for Britain in its defence against German invasion. It’s also brilliantly filmmaking, reserved at first then building, with Jennings’ characteristic attention to telling visual and aural detail, to an emotionally wrenching climax. Last but not least, it’s a deeply felt tribute, by the most English of Englishmen, to Welshness and Wales. 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.
Travelogue 1937 12 mins Location: Finchingfield
Rural life in the Essex villages of Finchingfield and Great Bardfield - and the mixed reactions of older residents to changing times.
Documentary 1978 49 mins Location: Orkney Islands
Orkney evoked through poetry, the sounds of nature, and the music of Peter Maxwell Davies.
Non-Fiction 1904 3 mins Silent Location: Walton-on-Thames
Midsummer haymaking larks
Industry sponsored film 1951 10 mins Location: Stroud
The Stroud valleys of Gloucestershire in glorious Technicolor - and with a Laurie Lee script.
Documentary 1984 23 mins Location: Newark-on-Trent
From shire horses to the Royal Marines, welcome to the annual Newark Show. A serious business for the farming community, with prizes to win and 800 gallons of beer to be drunk.
Documentary 1944 7 mins Location: Stanion
An extraordinary and unexpected snapshot of rural life in wartime in which a young black girl is crowned Queen of the May.
Charity appeal 1939 10 mins
Long thought lost, this Powell-directed promotional short for a veteran’s charity was only rediscovered in 2003.
Drama 2023 2 mins
A group of young Black boys run into a building. One of them is about to do the unimaginable.
Romance 2023 2 mins
A queercore romance - a visceral and immersive exploration of the power of the mosh pit and finding love in the most unlikely of places.
Documentary 1941 6 mins
A poignant, stirring letter from a recently deceased pilot to his mother is read by John Gielgud.
Comedy 2023 2 mins
En-route to her hen weekend, bride-to-be Faye kills the vibe with a bombshell confession.
Documentary 2023 2 mins
An insight into Daytimers, the South Asian DJ collective that are breaking new ground in Britain.