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Harry Birrell was given his first cine camera as a 10-year-old boy in Paisley in 1928; from that moment on, he was hooked. His curious, questioning gaze captured everything, from seemingly banal bike rides in the country and the scrum of traffic on the streets of 1930s Glasgow, to a soldier’s eye view of the frontlines of the second world war (although less polished, there are shades here of the intimacy of Peter Jackson’s first world war film They Shall Not Grow Old).
Birrell was also an eloquent diarist, and it’s the combination of his words, narrated by actor Richard Madden, and the images he found intriguing that makes this personal history of the 20th century such a delight. Birrell’s cache of films and diaries were stored in a shed and rediscovered by his granddaughter, Carina, a producer on this film who also appears as part of a contemporary framing device. It’s a device that is ultimately unnecessary. The gentle decency of Birrell’s writing and his openness to the world around him more than speaks for itself.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War review – single life | Documentary films