Humphrey Jennings

Active - 1939 - 1950  |   Born - Aug 19, 1907   |   Died - Sep 24, 1950   |   Genres - Culture & Society, History

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

British documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings is best known for brilliantly observing the effects of the Blitz on London. They were passionate, patriotic films that offered penetrating, and yet somehow poetic insights into the British people as they coped with the disastrous bombing. Though often dealing with violence, he imbued the haunting images with a sense of weird beauty. Jennings was born in Walberswick, Suffolk. While attending Cambridge, he was part of the prestigious intellectual journal Experiment. In 1934, he began working with the GPO unit as an actor, designer and editor. After working briefly for Shell and doing the color work as an associate director on The Birth of a Robot (1936), Jennings became a director back at GPO. Though he created nothing extraordinary, his films did display an unusual warmth and sensitivity. His three best-known documentaries are Listen to Britain (1941), Fires Were Started (1943) and A Diary for Timothy (1945). Jennings continued making films after the war, but they were not as powerful. He died in 1950 after falling off a cliff while scouting a film location in Greece.

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