the british film resource

the british film resourceIntroduction to Humphrey Jennings
the british film resourceAuthor:Tomas Leach 
Introduction Introduction
The Films The Films
Current Critical Evaluation Current Critical Evaluation
Intellectual Criticism Intellectual Criticism
Class Criticism Class Criticism
Documentary and Propaganda Documentary and Propaganda
Conclusion Conclusion
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Documentary and Propaganda
There is then, a lack of constructive debate around how to evaluate Jennings. Issues of propaganda and documentary are not used to delineate parameters for his work, or to raise questions as to the validity of his films. They are instead used as a further means of elevating his work. Definitions of documentary are used as a stamp of authority for films such as The Silent Village and Fires Were Started, despite their clear fictualisation of factual events. Jennings status as propagandist is even less explored, in fact it is used as a further mark of his genius - the ability to create such poignant, socially affected work from such political backing "Yes they are propaganda, but propaganda of an order so high and humane that the world loses its usual pejorative edge." (Jackson, 1993 ppX). This extraordinary statement is the perfect example of my point - Jennings work is not explored as neither documentarist nor propagandist enough as to affect his status as poet of the British cinema.

Are propaganda and documentary, then, the wrong frameworks within which to evaluate Jennings work? I believe so. These polysemic terms are both too easily dismissed and too easily moulded to fit, as to be used as primary frameworks for the evaluation of a filmmaker. Rather, they should be used to both historically inform and consider sociologically. So, there is a need to look at Jennings in a new framework for discussion.