Visions of Change: The Evolution of the British TV Documentary Volume 1: BBC 1951 – 1967 is part of the British Film Institute's ongoing effort to chronicle and reappraise the UK's contribution to the documentary form.
This double DVD set features ten BBC-produced documentaries by directors such as Ken Russell, John Schlesinger and Dennis Potter and focuses on wide range of topics - from a poetic look at the work of sculptor Henry Moore to an impressionistic take on the life of an unnamed Northern city, from a science-based piece focussing on test flights to a fly-on -the-wall documentary on a dispute over redundancies at a car delivery firm.
Highlights are John Schlesinger's 3-minute film Song of the Valley, a lyrical mix of factual and fiction that is seemingly about a man reminiscing about his home town as he is being escorted to prison, and Ken Russell's exuberantly experimental Pop Goes the Easel, a portrait of Pop Art exponents Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips. Russell's approach renounces traditional narration and chooses to reflect his subjects' artistic universe via fast-editing, Godard-inspired montages and a nightmarish sequence featuring Pauline Boty being pursued by a sinister wheelchair-bound villain through labyrinthian corridors.
Collecting over 6 hours of rarely-seen material, this DVD box-set is an invaluable addition for anyone with an interest in UK social history or documentary. It's also a welcome reminder of how imaginative and ground-breaking the documentary format can truly be.
Visions of Change: The Evolution of the British TV Documentary Volume 1: BBC 1951 – 1967 is released on 14 December 2015 by the British Film Institute. The DVD box-set contains an illustrated booklet featuring authoritative essays and biographies