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Children of the Ruins (1948)

Main image of Children of the Ruins (1948)
35mm, black and white, 11 mins
DirectorJill Craigie
Production CompanyCrown Film Unit
SponsorsCentral Office of Information, Foreign Office

Promotional film for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Video Clips

1. Education (3:36)
2. 'Give us more food!' (1:48)

What do you think?

Watch the first extract, 'Education'

  1. What kinds of images does the film use to describe the way war has affected children across Europe and the world? What images do you find most upsetting and why?
  2. The film compares different countries' types of education on offer to children. What do we learn about British education from this?
  3. What do you think are the main arguments being put forward in this extract? How does this relate to the issue of refugees?

Watch the second extract, 'Give us more food'

  1. What is even more important than education for most children across the world? How does the film get this message across?
  2. How effective are the images here of 'a hungry world'?
  3. From the two extracts you've seen, how successful do you find the film as a 'promotional film' (promoting cooperation between governments to highlight the need for education in order to achieve peace and stability)? It might be useful to think about tone, imagery, atmosphere, sound, etc.
  1. This film shows footage of poor and starving children in desolate surroundings around the globe.
  2. We learn that British children are fortunate for the education system they have in comparison to other countries around the world.
  3. The narrator emphasises the importance of education around the world in order to sustain peace. He links this to the power of the Nazi regime which destroyed books - and therefore destroyed reason, i.e. the mental capacity to think for oneself. This relates to the problem of refugees after WWII because it implies that proper education can prevent wars from happening again and therefore preventing people having to become refugees.
  4. Food is more important to people than education. The film shows footage of hungry people eating and queuing for food.
  5. Shocking images are often used by filmmakers to grab our attention and retain it while at the same time encouraging our sympathy. Comparisons can be drawn with charity appeal films such as those you may see on TV for Save the Children or Oxfam for example.