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Spare Time (1939) - extract

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Uploaded on Jun 15, 2010

This classic documentary about the British at leisure arose from director Humphrey Jennings' work as one of the founders of the Mass Observation movement (still extant to this day). This clip has long been described as featuring a 'kazoo band', though their buzzing plastic horns seem to be closer to the modern vuvuzela, as controversially featured in South Africa's World Cup 2010 matches.

Mass Observation sought to document ordinary people in their natural environment by recording everyday conversations and aspects of social behaviour. To this source material, Jennings brings an eye that was already thoroughly steeped in Surrealism: the mock-triumphant shot of 'Britannia' being raised aloft is swiftly undermined by a cut to a caged lion. The commentary is by Laurie Lee, future author of 'Cider with Rosie'. (Michael Brooke)

All titles on the BFI Films channel are preserved in the vast collections of the BFI National Archive. To find out more about the Archive visit http://www.bfi.org.uk/archive-collect...

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