This film is part of Rentals

Coal Face

A striking and significant film from the early days of the British documentary movement, chronicling the work of British miners.

Documentary 1935 12 mins

Director: Alberto Cavalcanti


A significant British documentary from the GPO Film Unit, Coal Face is on the face of it a straightforward document of the daily routine of miners and their significance to British industry. The film is elevated by the sophisticated sound design established by director Alberto Cavalcanti, whom the GPO enlisted from the French avant-garde movement to add creative flair to their naturalistic tendencies.

The result is a striking example of early British documentary in which the relationship between sound and image is disrupted to dramatic effect. As with the GPO’s most famous film, Night Train, there are contributions to the narration and score from W.H Auden and Benjamin Britten, respectively.