‘Humphrey Jennings: Of Images, Poetry and Pandaemonium’

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    The inclusion of Humphrey Jennings, the great documentary filmmaker, in a collection exploring British art cinema might cause eyebrows to be raised. This chapter will argue, nevertheless, that he belongs in any such survey. It will argue that he needs to be seen first and foremost as a poet in the broadest sense of that word, whose entire oeuvre is characterised by a fascination with images, and that any appreciation of his films needs to take into account the full scope and diversity of his work. He can thus be seen as an example of the ‘expressive individual’ David Bordwell has argued is fundamental to art cinema (1979: 720). Indeed, by virtue of his polymathic abilities, his musings on formal and stylistic art traditions and his own practice, Jennings might be seen alongside the likes of artists-as-filmmakers Pier Paolo Pasolini and Andrej Tarkovsky. As such, any study seeking to provide a more nuanced and broader understanding of British art cinema should find space for Humphrey Jennings, especially at a time when his film work has been re-released for the benefit of contemporary audiences.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBritish Art Cinema
    Subtitle of host publicationCreativity, Experimentation and Innovation
    EditorsPaul Newland, Brian Hoyle
    Place of PublicationManchester
    PublisherManchester University Press
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Print)9781526100870
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


    • Humphrey Jennings
    • Art cinema
    • British cinema
    • Documentary
    • wellbeing


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