Film and Reform: John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Film and Reform

John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement, 1st Edition

By Ian Aitken


264 pages

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Best known for his documentaries such as Drifters, North Sea, and Housing Problems, John Grierson was the most important figure in the British documentary film movement and one of the most influential of British film theorists.

This major assessment of Grierson and the documentary film movement examines the intellectual and aesthetic influences on his work, focusing on the material he produced in the inter-war years and comparing the idealistic strain of Grierson’s social commentary with other social reformists such as the Next Five Years Group and writers like Orwell and Priestley. Underlining the link between film and reform, the book clarifies the meaning and significance of Grierson’s ideas and the historical role of the documentary film movement. Originally published in 1990.


Reviews of the original edition:

"Film and Reform amounts to…an extraordinarily expansive intellectual biography…a valuable guidebook…Any subsequent writing….will have to incorporate these findings." – Jack Ellis

Table of Contents

Foreword Jack C. Ellis Introduction 1. John Grierson 2. John Grierson and the Influence of American Scientific Naturalism 1924-7 3. Grierson’s Aesthetic 1924-7 4. John Grierson, the Empire Marketing Board Film Unit, and the Documentary Film Movement 1927-33 5. The General Post Office Film Unit 1933-9 6. Public Relations, Propaganda and Documentary Film 1900-39 7. Documentary Film and Reform 8. The Influence of Idealism

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: Cinema

Reissuing works originally published between 1914 and 1996, Routledge Library Editions: Cinema offers a selection of scholarship covering the movies. Volumes range from film propaganda to the epic film genre, women in cinema to Soviet cinema, silent film to horror series, and touch on acting, screenwriting and film production among other areas making this a comprehensive collection of previously out-of-print works.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Reference
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies