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One Potato, Two Potato (1957)

British Film Institute

Main image of One Potato, Two Potato (1957)
16mm, 23 min, black & white
DirectorLeslie Daiken
Production CompanyBFI Experimental Film Fund
PhotographyPeter Kennedy

A study of games played by London schoolchildren in the streets and playgrounds. The games range from the traditional to the contemporary.

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Leslie Daiken, the Irish director of One Potato, Two Potato, was not a member of the Free Cinema group, any more than he was even interested in becoming a filmmaker. He was known first and foremost as an author and educator, and more particularly as a specialist on children's games, nursery rhymes and toys. His film, which documents contemporary street games (the title will be familiar to many as a counting out rhyme), was for him a new way of introducing the subject to the public.

Yet the film is much more than a mere informational documentary or 'filmed guide to children's games'. In the end, Daiken must have really enjoyed his first and only filmmaking experience, because the result is a beautifully shot and delightfully fresh and spontaneous impression of young children at play on their 'territory', i.e. the streets and 'playgrounds' (read bombsites) of London. The games range from the traditional to the contemporary, from the elaborate group game to the more isolated activity. Produced, like the majority of the Free Cinema films, with a grant from the BFI, it was filmed with the same limited equipment and crew, and made use - with great success - of similar impressionist techniques of imaginative editing of sounds (mainly the children's rhymes) and images of the children at play.

Christophe Dupin

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Free Cinema'.

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Video Clips
Complete film (20:36)
Production stills
Beyond Free Cinema