6.8/10
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10 user 5 critic

Night Mail (1936)

Shows the special train on which mail is sorted, dropped and collected on the run, and delivered in Scotland overnight.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Arthur Clark ... Engineer
... Commentary
Stuart Legg ... Commentary
Robert Rae ... Senior Driver - LMS Railway
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Storyline

Shows the special train on which mail is sorted, dropped and collected on the run, and delivered in Scotland overnight.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Documentary

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Details

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Release Date:

13 January 1936 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Courrier de nuit  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(Visatone Marconi)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The shots of the interior of the carriage where the mail is sorted were filmed in a studio. An impression of movement was given by gently swinging the string that was hanging down from the top of the sorting boxes before each shot was filmed and telling the postal workers to walk with a rolling gait. See more »

Quotes

Commentary: [Reciting W.H. Auden poem] Dawn freshens, Her climb is done. Down towards Glasgow she descends, Towards the steam tugs yelping down a glade of cranes, Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces, Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen. All Scotland waits for her: In dark glens, beside pale-green sea-lochs, Men long for news...
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Connections

Referenced in Back to the Back of Beyond (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the most important documentaries to ever come out of Britain
23 August 2011 | by See all my reviews

From 1933, the GPO (General Post Office) Film Unit produced many documentaries, inspired by the likes of Nanook of the North, to promote their service. The films had many talented British film-makers working for them, including the likes of Basil Wright and Alberto Cavalcanti (both on the production team here), and have recently been released in three DVD collector's editions by the British Film Institute. As well as producing some damn fine films, they are key works in understanding the mentality and living conditions of a Britain long gone, when we took pride in our work. They are both uplifting in their detail and wholly depressing given the state of Britain today. I'm only 27 and feel this way, so God knows what the old folk must think.

Night Mail follows the midnight postal train from London to Scotland, looking at various things such as the sorting room, the loading of the train, and the inspired way of collecting mail from various places by catching the bags at high speeds in a retracting net. The last ten minutes features a now famous poem by W.H. Auden, read to the music of Benjamin Britten, that is read rhythmically to the sounds of the train. Starting slow, it gradually picks up pace as the train gets faster, and ends at a breathless pace.

Finishing at around the 30 minute mark, it leaves a great impression regardless of its slight running time. As mentioned before, it manages to capture the spirit of old Britain, and of a time when our public services were actually efficient. Now, the Post Office seems to lose more mail than it delivers, and if you're lucky to catch a train that arrives on time, you have the pleasure in sitting near some gormless scumbag listening to his s**t dance music out loud, or some lazy fat single mother who won't deal with their screaming baby. But anyway, the quality of the film-making is often overwhelming for a documentary short, using interesting camera angles, lovely cinematography, and informative narration. I was surprised to see that the average user rating for this on IMDb is 6.8, considering this is one of the best, and most important documentaries to come out Britain. Ever.

www.the-wrath-of-blog.blogspot.com


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