World War II In Colour: The Redoubtable Miss Rosie Newman


We seem to remember the past in black and white, especially the 1930s and ’40s, but the work of Miss Rosie Newman, a British woman who happened to be a talented amateur film maker, allows us a wonderful opportunity to see what the 1940s really looked like – blue skies, sunny streets, the different tones of military kit, nursing uniforms, blooming flowers and neat gardens, vibrant shop windows, different skin colours. Being filmed in the 1940s was very much a novelty, especially if it was a woman behind the camera, some people couldn’t take their eyes off her. This novelty, combined with her impressive social connections and a determination to film wherever she could has left us with a terrific colour documentary about the war, Britain at War In Colour.

So who was Rosie Newman?

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2013 film round up: fashionably late

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2013 was a satisfyingly good film year!
Image: http://www.sodahead.com.

It’s been a hectic end of 2013/start of 2014 so my screen roundup has taken a back seat for a few weeks. Now though (before it really is too late) I’m knuckling down to thinking about what a very good film year it was. For the first time I managed to watch 100 films in a year: a drop in the celluloid ocean compared to some of my film friends but it’s pretty big for me. Cambridge Film Festival in September was hugely enjoyable, meeting lots of lovely new people, seeing many unexpectedly good (and a few bad) films and writing some reviews for Take One. I started a blog, penpaperaction.wordpress.com, where I post about film, theatre, books and anything else that catches my eye. The most-viewed posts are A Bit Of A Yarn: Knitting For The Cinephile and It’s A Stitch Up! (do have a look, click on titles), which are explorations of the connections between film and knitting and sewing. It’s a surprisingly fruitful thread, if you’ll pardon the pun.

2013’s films started for me with The Angels’ Share at the community cinema I help run; it went down very well and surprised many of the audience, some of whom hadn’t expected to be so brilliantly entertained. 2013 was a big year for community cinema generally, as it seems to have made a small mark on the BFI Film Forever plan, with promises of potential funding and support to develop the network. Organising a community cinema is huge fun, very rewarding and a lot of work. We’ve managed to achieve near or complete sellouts throughout the year, with just a tiny autumn dip in attendances, and we’ve been delighted to hear positive responses to A Separation, Les Diaboliques and The Spirit of ’45, amongst others. Our new line is offering (sold out) film classes thanks to a BFI/Cambridgeshire Film Consortium pilot scheme; so far we’ve enjoyed Hitchcock’s Women, Introduction to film, Millions Like Us: Home Front cinema and Close Readings of 10 films.

In September, the Competition Commission announced its bizarre and ill-informed decision that Cineworld, the Picturehouse chain owners, must divest themselves of three cinemas, most likely Picturehouses, in Aberdeen, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge. This soaked up many hours of thinking, emailing and discussing and the outcome remains uncertain, despite a high profile media campaign that was even debated in the House of Lords. So we enter 2014 not knowing if the Arts Picturehouse, so important to Cambridge culture, will survive the year; meanwhile 2014’s programme forges optimistically ahead. The Movie Evangelist’s blog is the best place to find out the ins and outs of this shambles.

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Water, water everywhere: the devastation of being flooded at home

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You’d be surprised how many 4×4 drivers seem to enjoy this scenario – it’s a different matter when the wash slams in under your front door.

When I sat down to write a new post yesterday I’d planned to write up my film review of 2013 but all the news of flooding around the UK forced a different post into being – I’m thinking about the two floods at the turn of the 21st century that affected me and my family. Since Christmas hundreds of UK homes have been inundated by sea or river water; it’s a terrible experience that will live on in any family’s memory; it takes months to recover the physical loses but years to mend the anxiety and fear that is often the long term consequence of your home being flooded.

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Terrifying waves crashing into Blackpool’s North Shore in December 2013.

I live on the edge of a pretty market town on a flood plain, a plain that does a great job containing the overflow from the river that the town sits next to. Thank goodness for that flood plain – the river has popped up in my house twice since I’ve lived here. With all the flooding that’s happening around the UK right now, I’m endlessly grateful that our terrace is protected by recently-constructed flood defences that have been tested on many occasions in the last few years. Apparently we’re now back to being one in 100 years’ risk of further flooding, a big improvement on the one in five or six years’ that was the case a decade ago. The hard-pressed Environment Agency is due to cut 1500 jobs in the next budget round, flood defence expenditure is constantly being trimmed, so the future for people living near water (on our small island) is worrying to say the very least.

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