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Essentially British?: Springtime in an English Village (1948)
In the Classroom


We are unsure about when Springtime in an English Village was made and for what purpose. Ask students to watch the film with no introduction or context. When do they think it was made? What is happening in the film? This could lead into broader discussion about the difficulties historians face in investigating sources. How does the uncertainty surrounding this film's origin affect students' interpretation and analysis of it?

The film begins with the Colonial Film Unit's 'logo', which includes a reference to the Ministry of Information. Why do students think the government had a Colonial Film Unit? What might its purpose have been and can they find anything in the film to support their ideas?

Assuming that the film was intended for screening in certain British colonies, what might the government have hoped to achieve by showing this film in Africa during the late 1940s? Does the title give us any clue as to the message of the film?

It would be a good idea to place this film in the wider context of immigration to Britain and/or Britain's history as a place of refuge and asylum. Encourage students to research immigration to Britain over a specific period of time, like the 1960s, or set up class activity in which groups explore the migration histories of different groups (the Moving Here website is a great resource for this). On this DVD, Return to Life (1960), which was made in Word Refugee Year, illustrates some of the challenges refugees face in adapting to a new culture and society. Alternatively, in I'm British But... (1989) a group of young Asian Britons talk about their families' experiences of adapting to British culture and their own sense of national identity.

Useful films for comparison

  • Return to Life (1960): a sensitive public information film looking at the experiences of one refugees family as it adapts to life in Britain.
  • I'm British But... (1989): a group of young Asian Britons from Glasgow, Belfast, London and South Wales discuss their plural identities.