Yule Be Sorry (2)…

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/106838/width668/image-20151221-27854-1ofit03.jpg&w=1484Well, Christmas 2015 is now gradually winding down and vanishing into the past — yet, as any glance at the telly listings will confirm, World War 2 is still alive and well and being energetically fought on tinsel-decked TV screens all over the UK…

Having written yesterday’s posting about the curious British tendency to treat the Christian nativity as an event best celebrated by showing movies in which the Krauts get sliced up a treat, I’ve just had a look at tonight’s schedules — and discovered that as I type these very words, BBC Two is screening The Heroes of Telemark (1965; “German scientists in occupied Norway during the Second World War begin work on the manufacture of vital components for an atomic bomb, prompting the Norwegian resistance to team up with British forces on a campaign of sabotage to halt production…”) — while Channel 5 is gearing up to show Escape to Victory (1981; “Allied PoWs take to the football field when a group of Nazi officers come up with the idea to have them take on a German team for a propaganda event. However, the prisoners see a chance to escape during the match…”)

https://timebusinessblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/123512761-e13499870431681.jpg?w=480&h=320&crop=1Naturally, I won’t be paying attention to any of that — but will, instead, present a clip from a short film that I found on YouTube this afternoon. It’s a film that has been on my mind a fair bit since the only time I ever saw it (which was at a special screening at the Barbican some time in 2004); and even though I wrote about the entire event in a little piece for Tempo, there’s still a great deal to be said about it and its music — tiny in amount though that music is.

Anyway, here’s the bit that I was most pleased to see and hear back then, and am delighted to be seeing and hearing again now. If you can’t immediately identify the speaking voice you hear, let me give you a few small clues by saying that it’s the voice of a magnificent British composer who was born two years before Schoenberg; who died seven years after the ‘Festival of Britain’; and whose name rhymes with ‘Spraughan Billiams’…

There’s a little more of this composer to be heard before the film ends, so I’ll put a link to the entire thing at the bottom of this posting. To most modern viewers, though, it will probably all seem a bit preachy and stifling, even though it’s less than eleven minutes long — so let me first give everyone the chance to hear the piece of English string music which featured in that little clip. In case anyone is curious, this is a work that was composed for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Which, of course, places it just on the other side of Everybody’s Favourite War…

And here’s the entire 1949 film, directed by Humphrey Jennings (1907-50):


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