lyrical and poetic treatment to "The Song of Ceylon."
The rehousing schemes of Stepney and West Ham
offered scope for a series of intimate interviews with
slum dwellers in Arthur Elton's Housing Problems."
The building of the Orion allowed Paul Rotha to
develop an impressionist approach to graceful lines
and gleaming machinery in "Shipyard." In this way
the original handling of new subjects brings freshness
The rise of the realist propaganda film is the result of
the growing consciousness in the publicity world of
the value of public relations in addition to direct adver
tising. And it is within this public relations field that
the film must work. The old publicity film failed
because it was born of a short-sighted policy. The sky
rocketing of sales is best left to those media which
excel at it. The strength of the new public relations
film lies in its long-term approach. Its business is to
inculcate a consciousness of modern problems and con
ditions, to bring to the man in the street an awareness
of his dependence on the industries and the public
services. It can build appreciation and understanding
in a way common to no other medium. It can present
the living fact at first hand and argue from it. As a
builder of good will it is a powerful instrument of
To fulfil its function in the broadening of experience,
it must avoid the more sensational methods. Its pro
duction must be in the hands of an artist, and he must
have creative freedom within his theme. The reserva
tion is an essential one for sponsor as well as producer,
for if the sponsor is tempted to demand "flattery in
return for finance his film will surely degenerate into
a tiresome catalogue unfit for public presentation. The
"delightful little gadget of which we are so proud" is
a death-trap which every realist director has learned
to avoid. In effect the insistence on creative liberty
lias released the propaganda film from a direct-selling
angle and has turned it from an animated poster into
a vital and constructive force.
The propaganda film was born of an economic need.
The film director interested in social themes had to
find finance outside the studios since his chances of
success were, to the film industry, an unimportant
gamble. He found it in alliance with the sponsor who
sought a wider and more illuminating method of
public approach than was offered by the normal run of
publicity. After six years of practical development the
realist director finds his primary problems of tech
nique and presentation solved, and his medium ready
for application on a national scale. The sponsor is
beginning to see in film not only a method of address
ing millions, but also a method whereby the separated
units of his own organization may come to a better
understanding of the co-ordinated whole.
It is already possible to perceive in the realist film the
basis of a new form of civic education. The old Liberal
ideal of omniscience in public affairs is dead since
public affairs have become so complex that the citizen
has no time to inform himself of everything. But if the
film can create a living interest in the work and the
problems behind our national systems of industry, trans
port, communication and public utility, a new source
of understanding can be built up more attuned to the
demands of the time by reason of its easy digestibility.
As an educator in civics the realist film looks to the
future. But if it is to fulfil its promise it must explore
wide and deep into the subjects which lie at the root of
modern society. Certain spheres it has already touched
on, and in so doing has sought to bring producer and
consumer constructively together. Beyond lie the
greater themes of citizenshipthe problems of finance,
economics, public welfare, international good will.
The commercial cinema has so far failed to bring these
momentous subjects to the screen. It remains for the
propaganda film to undertake the task.
PREFACE TO LIFE
A Strand Film Company picture about Books and publishing.
Producer paul rotha. Director ai.ex shaw.