1940 - 1970 Public information films
Public Information Films
Many public information films concentrated on crime and safety and of course the police forces of England and Wales.
What are they?
Public Information Films were produced by many different British government departments for over 70 years, mainly through the agency of the Central Office of Information, successor to the wartime Ministry of Information. They have included work by many of the greatest names in British cinema history, including the much-celebrated Richard Massingham, Alberto Cavalcanti, John Grierson, Len Lye and more. But there are many unknown treasures which reveal our recent history in a refreshing and unexpected way. Films which aim to influence the public to cycle carefully, to kill flies, to avoid hazards in the home, to improve typing technique or learn how to talk effectively on the telephone (whether within the civil service or shopping a paramilitary in Troubles-era Northern Ireland), all offer a rare insight into how Britons really lived in the last century.
These films were part of a government policy of using films to communicate with a mass audience and represent a real attempt to change behaviours in the interests of public health and safety. During the Second World War they were an essential part of boosting civilian morale and martialling scarce resources, whether they were cabbages, tin cans or bath water; everyone had their part to play in the war effort. In the immediate postwar period, with the nation still reeling from the aftermath of wartime destruction, these films capture the “can do” mood of the period of reconstruction. Social attitudes, culture and heritage are brilliantly conveyed, and often unintentionally revealing of long-forgotten ways of thinking, living and working. BFI