Land of Promise
About IDFA
Land of Promise
IDFA 1989

Land of Promise

Paul Rotha, Francis Gysin
Festival history
Paul Rotha started with the production of in 1944, indeed still during the war, but at a time when discussion about post-war society came increasingly into prominence. The film had its premiere in the autumn of 1945, after the resounding election victory of the Labour Party. Rotha showed that before the war situation had arisen, in which prohibitive houses were vacant, thousands of families had to live in slums, because house building was left to the powers of the market. This film went on to show how the German bombing had only worsened this situation. According to Rotha, only careful planning could bring adequate solutions: control of the land and the construction of cheap houses in modern garden cities, with government support. Economical planning was a prerequisite, an idea originating from Russia of course, but during the war years meeting with more and more response in Great Britain, too.
Paul Rotha utilized different cinematic means of expression to support his plea. The statistical information was presented in animation form, by means of so-called "Isotypes". The documentary images - besides images that were specially made for the film, Rotha used a lot of archive material - were commented on by various voices, each representing a specific social and political persuasion in British society. "Know-all", the conservative commuter with his black umbrella, next to the "Housewife", who tries to keep her hovel clean as best as she can. The traditional voice-over, the "Voice" (the popular actor John Mills), represented the audience. At the end of the movie, he walked, as it were, out of the audience, right into the film and addressed himself directly to the spectators, appealing them to be sure to draw their inferences from what had been shown. Land of Promise is a breathtaking, intricate film, demanding a strong commitment from the spectator.
    National Film Archive
    National Film Archive
    Films of Fact
    Films of Fact