The GPO Film Unit only ran from 1934 to 1939 but its influence was immense. There have been many academic studies of the documentary film movement but few are as hefty as this.
The book is divided into six sections: Arguments, Ideas, Issues; Film-makers; Key documents; Aesthetics; The GPO Film Unit and Telecommunications Culture; Films; plus a postscript on the modern Post Office. This adds more voices to the debate and allows more obscure figures such as Evelyn Spice and Stewart McAllister a little bit of the limelight. It also lets you dip in and out more than a straight chronological history would and, let's face it, skip the duller sections.
It's a handsomely put-together book, but maybe a little over-designed. The opening page of each chapter is printed with black lettering on a grey background. It may look stylish but it's a bugger to read. The many fascinating illustrations go some way to compensate for this.
A worthy addition to your British Cinema bookshelf.
Pub: Palgrave Macmillan
Price: £22.50 (UK), $31.00 (US)The Projection of Britain at Amazon UK