Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Listen to Britain (1942)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Trees, cornfields, spitfires; fighter planes fly through clear sun lit skies over the beauty of the English countryside on a late summer evening. Land girls look up. The planes are spotted from the ground by relay stations, their positions relayed. Tractors cut wheat. Nothing interrupts the harvest. Silhouettes of soldiers by water at sunset; evening fades to night. Canadian soldiers laugh and sing on a troop train going who knows where.

Dance music, a grand ballroom packed with wheeling dancers. Coal miners; the pithead at night. A signalman changes a signal and a huge locomotive advances, hissing into the night. A Lancaster bomber factory, a Lancaster taking off at sunset, ARP and ambulance station workers at a concert, Parliament buildings. Radio: London Calling; patriotic music, broadcasts in different languages, dramatic clear evening skies, a grim message of good luck to the forces abroad, bird song in a wood at sunset or dawn. Sounds and images of freedom continue to alternate with scenes of everyday wartime life, and scenes from the industry of war.

Giant chimneys and smoke stacks belch clouds of dense, black, sulphurous smoke into the hazy air in fantastic quantities, to a chorus of Rule Britannia. All Britain's industrial might runs flat out for the war effort. The film ends with an aerial shot of Britain's patchwork countryside through cumulus clouds.

Some of the others of the hundreds of short shots and sound recordings: stock shot of bombed city; workers, men and women in munitions and tank factories; radio programmes: e.g. London Calling, Calling All Workers; girls singing in munitions factory; Flanagan and Allen singing in lunchtime concert in factory canteen; blackboard menu in factory canteen: surprisingly good menu!; Myra Hess concert; steel works.