Modernity, myth, colour and collage
The early films
in Humphrey Jennings
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The assessment of Humphrey Jennings' early career generally was passed by biographers and other writers on their way to discussion of the mature work. Jennings' early films are either ignored or noted only briefly, although his foundational films do connect with and inform his early and ongoing intellectual preoccupations. This chapter analyses some of the aspects – modernity, myth, colour and collage – of his earlier works. Jennings' lifelong concern with aspects of technological modernity is evident in his earliest films, Post Haste and Locomotives, with their focus on locomotives as symbols of modern experience. In another way, his films The Farm (1938) and English Harvest (1939) apply and exploit features of a myth of rural England, an ideological strain that Jennings analyses in his studies of British poetry and which he also deploys in various forms in a number of later films. Jennings' early work also includes a number of films shot in colour.


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