(Original title: “I WAS A FIREMAN”)
1942 - Dir.: Humphrey Jennings
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 29th September, 2007
Humphrey Jennings (1907-50) was perhaps the most gifted filmmaker of the British documentary movement. Involved in the Mass Observation project of the 1930s, Jennings' talent lay in picturing ordinary life in ways that were inventive yet authentic. Fires Were Started (1942) is his major achievement.
This film is a dramatised tribute to the men and women of the Auxiliary Fire Service made by the Crown Film Unit during W.W.II. It is no gung-ho propaganda piece: it simply records the everyday lives and acts of courage of seven fire-fighters and their new recruit over a fictional 24-hour period. This may be a work of “faction” but the actors are real firemen - and it was real firemen like these that kept the real Mrs Henderson’s real show open (See: Mrs Henderson Presents.