Under a month ago a fantastic new BFI DVD was released which celebrates the British coastline. From the Sea to the Land Beyond is a film by award winning director Penny Woolcock and is a lyrical portrait of Britain’s coastline, created through an exquisite combination of evocative archive footage (all drawn from the BFI National Archive) and not only celebrates our identity with the British sea and coastline, but celebrates the superb archive which is held at the BFI.
Travelling from 1901 through both World Wars, into peacetime and the modern age, From the Sea to the Land Beyond shows our coast as a place of leisure, industry and wild nature. With an emphasis on the romantic and the ritualistic, the archive footage used in the film’s assembly is rich and varied. Both film and music incorporate themes of work, play, childhood, romance, melancholy, hope, transportation, wilderness, the power of the elements and the beauty of wildlife.
Amongst many memorable and poignant images are those of a woman scaling a sheer cliff face to collect eggs, a group of Edwardian gentlemen playing beach combat games on the verge of World War I, bathers in top hats, a troupe of dancers on a pristine beach, the arrival by ship of émigrés from the Caribbean and India, the building of the Channel Tunnel, and present-day holidaymakers battling the wind and rain in Blackpool.
The film is comprised mainly of clips from four major BFI National Archive collections: the world-famous Mitchell and Kenyon films; Topical Budget (British silent era newsreels); public information films from the COI collection; travelogues from the British Transport Film Unit.
In her introductory essay in the DVD booklet, director Penny Woolcock writes:
‘In these days of formatted, factual entertainment and docu-soaps, tabloid television is created with twitchy fingers on the remote control in mind. Filmmakers find it hard to resist demands for commentaries that inform the viewer what they are about to see and reminding them of it as soon as it is over, and shovelling all the best bits in the film into the first couple of minutes and repeating later. The opportunity of making something without these attendant anxieties was irresistible.’
Included amongst the DVD’s special features are some of the archive films which were used in From the Sea to the Land Beyond. One of them, Beside the Seaside, directed by Marion Grierson in 1935, is a wittily observant documentary that shows Londoners flocking to the coast to enjoy themselves during a heatwave. This, and the other archive films included as extras, feature newly recorded introductions by Penny Woolcock.
Conceived and produced by Heather Croall, director of Sheffield Doc/Fest, and Mark Atkin, director of Crossover Labs. From the Sea to the Land Beyond premiered in Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre with a live score – to a standing ovation – in June 2012 (some of us were there). The project was funded by The Space, an initiative of the BBC and The Arts Council. British Sea Power, a band famed for their live shows, have subsequently performed their original score at further screenings of the film.
So not only can we highly recommend this release! We can also offer the opportunity to win a copy of From the Sea to the Land Beyond on DVD!
As mentioned above we have a copy of the BFI’s new DVD From the Sea to the Land Beyond to give away… all you need to do is ansewer this very simple question.
SS Saxonia is featured in From the Sea to the Land Beyond via Mitchell and Kenyon’s film ‘SS Saxonia in Liverpool’ (1911), but what was the destination for her maiden voyage from Liverpool?
We need the name of the city and not the country by the way.
Simply email the answer to email@example.com with ‘From the Sea to the Land Beyond’ in the subject header by the afternoon on Friday 8th March. The lucky winner will then be announced later that Friday evening.
Our thanks to the BFI for releasing a fantastic DVD.