The Festival of Britain, which ran from May 3rd to September 30th 1951, was established in commemoration of the 1851 exhibition. Constructed on the South Bank by Waterloo Bridge, it featured a myriad of pavilions depicting all aspects of British life, history and culture, including the Dome of Discovery. There was also a fun park at Battersea Pleasure Gardens.
Festival in London This film is a colourful introduction to the exhibition, produced by the Crown Film Unit, and features the superb 'Festival March' composed by William Alwyn. Just two weeks before the Festival closed, The Observer newspaper decided to make a film of the exhibition in full swing before it vanished forever. Journalist Patrick O'Donovan wrote and narrated the commentary as he tours the event in the company of Sir Hugh Casson, the co-ordinating architect. The film begins reflectively on the derelict site after closure, and then turns back to review the exhibition. Together they discover the events, including an evening dance outdoors featuring waltzing in heavy overcoats and trilbys! Directed by Maurice Harvey and Jacques Brunius, this film was Richard Massingham's last production.
Family Portrait This, the last film to be written and directed by Humphrey Jennings, was made on 'the theme of the Festival of Britain". Looking back on the history of Britain, the film turns over the pages of history as a person might turn over the pages of a family album. Jennings also considers the importance of Europe to the country's future.
Designed in Britain 1959 (Bonus Film) Britain prides herself on the good appearance, combined with perfect utility, of the goods she uses and sells. This film offers an imaginative impression of British design in a variety of articles ranging from furniture, textiles, kitchenware and fine china to new buildings and towns. Skilfully edited, the film carries only the minimum of commentary. The visuals combine with a contemporary music track specially scored to match quick changes of colour, mood and scene. Terence Conran was technical advisor.