British Transport Films Collection

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by the BFI and the films on them.

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peerpee
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

Night Mail / Song of Ceylon

#2 Post by peerpee » Mon May 16, 2005 2:25 pm

On and Off the Rails: British Transport Films Vol. 1 (1951)

...is a *fantastically* odd collection of quaint British transport propaganda films. One of my favourite releases of the year so far. Beautiful transfers too.
Steven H wrote:I wonder if Night Mail or Song of Ceylon could be far behind? Peerpee, have you gotten hold of the Geoffrey Jones collection? I'd like to know more about his work or this set.
There's going to be another collection soon of the BFI Transport Films, I believe, but I don't know if NIGHT MAIL will be on it seeing as there's already a DVD here.

[Haven't seen the Geoffrey Jones release.]

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antnield
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 1:59 pm
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NIGHT MAIL

#3 Post by antnield » Thu Jun 30, 2005 5:29 am

peerpee wrote:There's going to be another collection soon of the BFI Transport Films, I believe, but I don't know if NIGHT MAIL will be on it seeing as there's already a DVD here.

[Haven't seen the Geoffrey Jones release.]
The press release which came with my review copy of 'On and Off the Rails' stated that it was the first of three projected volumes. As for the inclusion of 'Night Mail' this is highly unlikely as it was produced by the GPO Film Unit and not the BTF Unit (the latter wasn't set up until the fifties and 'Night Mail' was made in 1936). However, there are R2 discs of 'Night Mail' currently available; I'd recommend the DDVideo release which twins it with 'West Highland', a BBC doc from the sixties.

With regards to the Geoffrey Jones disc - pick it up now! A fantastic collection. My DVD Times review can be found here. And seeing as this is a thread devoted to BFI discs, search the site and you'll find reviews for most of their releases. :)

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antnield
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British Transport Films Volume One : On and Off the Rails

#4 Post by antnield » Mon Jul 04, 2005 4:05 am

My DVD Times review of 'British Transport Films Volume One : On and Off the Rails' can be found here.

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antnield
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British Transport Films collection

#5 Post by antnield » Thu Dec 08, 2005 2:10 pm

DVD Times review for the second British Transport Films collection, See Britain By Train

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meanwhile
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 6:22 am

#6 Post by meanwhile » Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:56 pm

I don't know what kind of reputation British Transport Films have outside of the UK, but as they often slip below the critical radar in the UK itself, I thought it worthwhile to draw attention to the fifth volume in the BFI's excellent series of 2-disc collections of the films.

Briefly, when much of Britain's transport system was nationalised in 1948, following Labour's victory at the elections, the British Transport Commission saw that the creation of a film unit - to promote public awareness, appreciation, understanding and even admiration of their means of transport - was an important part of their mission. John Grierson's protege, Edgar Anstey took the helm at the Unit. Through to its closure in 1986, a number of notable people passed through the Unit's ranks - editor Stewart McAllister, cameramen David Watkin and Billy Williams, John Schlesinger to name just four.

The BFI's collections are thoroughly enjoyable and show just how inventive the Unit could be when approaching their subject. There are now over 70 films available on these collections, most in superb condition (see John Schlesinger's Terminus on Volume 3: Running a Railway for proof). Other highlights are too many to mention and will be according to your own interests, but Holiday (1957) on Volume 2 is fun, as the sights and sounds of Blackpool are set to a Chris Barber soundtrack, I am a Litter Basket (1959) and The Third Sam (1962) (narrated by Stanley Holloway) show their quirkiness well, and films such as Farmer Moving South (1952) are simply very beautiful, highly accomplished short films. Then there are Snow, Rail and Locomotion, Geoffrey Jones' exhilarating films made for British Railways and collected together on Geoffrey Jones: The Rhythm of Film.

The most recent volume gives the lie to the popular assumption that they must be all about trains as it actually includes three Oscar-nominated nature documentaries - Journey into Spring, Between the Tides and Wild Wings, the last of which actually won the Oscar.

Anyway that's the intro. I'm recommending them as they are too good to remain the preserve of people approaching them solely from the angle of interest in transport (though of course they are brilliant if you are).

Screenonline is good for the history of the Unit and there is also a complete list of films over at British Transport Films.

I have done a couple of podcasts about them over at MovieMail if you're interested - have a look around beneath the one I've just put up talking with Michael about Svankmajer.

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MichaelB
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#7 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:20 pm

The BFI also offers three British Transport Films as free downloads - the complete (and delightful) Let's Go To Birmingham! from 1962, and excerpts from natural history documentary Between the Tides (1958) and the terrifying cautionary tale The Finishing Line (1977).

Forgotten Goldfish
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#8 Post by Forgotten Goldfish » Mon Jul 23, 2007 8:19 pm

meanwhile wrote:I don't know what kind of reputation British Transport Films have outside of the UK, but as they often slip below the critical radar in the UK itself, I thought it worthwhile to draw attention to the fifth volume in the BFI's excellent series of 2-disc collections of the films.
Just a word of thanks for the above posting. At least one non-British collector values this series very highly indeed, and certainly wouldn't want to miss a release.

That's one of the things I appreciate about this forum. Nothing seems to slip below its radar. Any and every branch of quality cinema is covered.

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Caligula
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#9 Post by Caligula » Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:48 am

Serious misprice: the upcoming BFI set of their collected Transport Films (all eight volumes) can be had for 11.24 GBP (suggested retail 99.99 GBP) here. Get it before they wake up to the error of their ways!

Overseas customers get their VAT deducted, BTW.

peerpee
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#10 Post by peerpee » Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:15 am

I've ordered a few for Xmas pressies. Will be interesting to see if Amazon honour this.

Narshty
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#11 Post by Narshty » Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:40 am

Thanks Caligula!

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Scharphedin2
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#12 Post by Scharphedin2 » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:14 am

I also placed an order for this, although unfortunately I think Amazon is covered against this kind of situation in their sales conditions:
Despite our efforts, a small number of the millions of products in our catalogue are mispriced. Rest assured, however, that we verify prices as part of our dispatch procedures. If a product's correct price is lower than our stated price, we charge the lower amount and send you the product. If a product's correct price is higher than our stated price, we will, at our discretion, either contact you for instructions before dispatch or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation.

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Dr Amicus
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#13 Post by Dr Amicus » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:42 am

Price has changed - it's now 'unavailable' but can be pre-ordered.

I snuck in an order earlier - let's see what happens...

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HerrSchreck
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#14 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:06 am

These films are a must-have for me. On my BFI People On Sunday is a transport film that charmed me to the bone. I knew the "On & Off The Rails" release here in R1 was just a port of a BFI release, but I had no idea that there were so many volumes. Sounds like total heaven!

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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#15 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:43 am

HerrSchreck wrote:These films are a must-have for me. On my BFI People On Sunday is a transport film that charmed me to the bone. I knew the "On & Off The Rails" release here in R1 was just a port of a BFI release, but I had no idea that there were so many volumes. Sounds like total heaven!

It is quite a stunning set and of great interest beyond its apparent 'Trainspotter' anorak appeal. It's also refreshing that we can get examples of 'slice of life' documentary without it being fronted by some Z list celebrity in search of property for people wanting a life style change. So despite its patrician overtones and occasional condescending lapses it is, as you say Herr Shreck, a very charming companion set.

On a personal note I was showing the first volume to my Mum - the one about the pleasure boats of the Clyde estuary because it briefly showed the house I was living in - when she leapt out the chair, not at the sight of our house, but because she'd spotted my Grandma sitting up on deck of the paddle steamer the 'Waverley' as it sailed through the Kyles of Bute.

So who knows what other hidden geneological gems lie in store for other viewers.

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What A Disgrace
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#16 Post by What A Disgrace » Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:33 pm

Volume 9 now up for preorder.

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MichaelB
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#17 Post by MichaelB » Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:40 pm

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:It's also refreshing that we can get examples of 'slice of life' documentary without it being fronted by some Z list celebrity in search of property for people wanting a life style change.
Mind you, the thought of Kirstie'n'Phil or Sarah Beeny fronting the classic 1935 documentary Housing Problems has a certain appeal.

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MichaelB
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#18 Post by MichaelB » Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:02 pm

Heads up - BBC4 is devoting a chunk of Thursday night to British Transport Films, in the form of a new documentary in their Nation on Film series at 9pm, and a complete screening of Elizabethan Express (1954) immediately afterwards.

And at 11pm the same evening, they're screening John Betjeman's superb Metro-Land - not a British Transport Film, but it might as well have been.

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Dr Amicus
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#19 Post by Dr Amicus » Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:48 am

Just had the dreaded e-mail from Amazon that they won't be honouring the misprice.

Probably no surprise really, but disappointing nonetheless.

Oh well - back on the Xmas wish list!

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Caligula
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#20 Post by Caligula » Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:29 am

Dr Amicus wrote:Just had the dreaded e-mail from Amazon that they won't be honouring the misprice.
Same here (sigh).

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foliagecop
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:42 am
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#21 Post by foliagecop » Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:38 am

Caligula wrote:
Dr Amicus wrote:Just had the dreaded e-mail from Amazon that they won't be honouring the misprice.
Same here (sigh).
A bit redundant, but same here too.

peerpee
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#22 Post by peerpee » Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:15 pm

Same here -- bastards.

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MichaelB
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#23 Post by MichaelB » Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:45 am

To coincide with tonight's programme, DVD Times has just reviewed volume five - but the review also doubles as an excellent general-purpose introduction to British Transport Films' output.

zone_resident
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 1:33 pm

Re: British Transport Films Collection

#24 Post by zone_resident » Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:11 pm

DVD Times on Volume Eight: Points and Aspects

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The Digital McGuffin
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Re: British Transport Films Collection

#25 Post by The Digital McGuffin » Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:50 am


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