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TIME TO REMEMBER
DVD. Studiocanal.

Time to RememberTime to Remember is a fascinating example of cinematic and televisual cannibalism. Starting life as British Pathe newsreel footage, the series began life in 1959 as a series of nostalgic documentaries, compiled by Peter Baylis, that used the newsreel footage to tell the history – as far as it then was – of the 20th century, and with specific themes for each episode. Each episode had its own narrator, ranging from Sir Michael Redgrave to Ralph Richardson to John Ireland. The series ran until 1964.

In 2010, BBC4 broadcast a new edit of the series, chopping up the original versions to create new themed editions, with Lesley Sharp linking the original 1960s versions together. Other than reducing the length of the series from three series worth to just twelve episodes, it’s hard to see why this was necessary. It’s these new editions – alongside two episodes of the original version – that are included in this three-disc set.

While this won’t replace specialised documentaries on any of the subjects, there is nevertheless a lot to enjoy here, as the vintage footage – and now, vintage narration – gives a fascinating insight into the world of yesteryear. Indeed, the double edged nostalgia – voices from fifty years ago waxing lyrical about a period of time that to them was already long in the past – is quite dizzying!

With themes like Pioneers of Aviation, Casualties of War, Crime and Prohibition, The Need for Speed and A Woman’s World, the half hour episodes are a fascinating mix of footage normally only briefly glimpsed, featuring a world long gone. Skilfully edited, very entertaining and surprisingly informative, this is remarkable stuff, and is a nice counterpoint to the Look at Life series that is also being currently revived.

As a social history of Britain in the first half of the last century, this is compellingly interesting. I’d love to see someone do likewise with subsequent decades.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK)

 

 

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