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Humphrey Jennings$
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Keith Beattie

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719078552

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719078552.001.0001

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Sound, image and nation: Words for Battle and Listen to Britain

Sound, image and nation: Words for Battle and Listen to Britain

(p.47) 3 Sound, image and nation: Words for Battle and Listen to Britain
Humphrey Jennings

Keith Beattie

Manchester University Press

The connection between national identity and the experience of war forces a question relevant to all home-front accounts of World War II: how to adequately portray a nation at war? That is the question which centrally motivated Humphrey Jennings' films Words for Battle (1941) and Listen to Britain (1942). This chapter explains how, in addressing this question, Jennings constructed representations that departed radically from extant practices characteristic of the nonfictional forms of newsreels. It discusses the way Jennings utilised the elements such as sound, image and nation in those films. In Words for Battle, Jennings uses extracts from literature and other texts as the basis of a commentary that cues images which expand the meanings and metaphorical connotations inherent in the texts. In Listen to Britain, the commentary is replaced by the masterful juxtaposition of sounds and images as the vehicle for narrative.

Keywords:   sound, image, nation, Words for Battle, Listen to Britain

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