‘Humphrey Jennings: Of Images, Poetry and Pandaemonium’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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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    • Media - Professor in Film

    Person: Academic

    Cite this

    Evans, O. (2019). ‘Humphrey Jennings: Of Images, Poetry and Pandaemonium’. In P. Newland, & B. Hoyle (Eds.), British Art Cinema: Creativity, Experimentation and Innovation (pp. 34-51). Manchester University Press.