Henry Moore: London 1940-42

The Series of Shelter Drawings

A montage, using documentary material filmed during the war, shows the beginnings of an air attack and Londoners entering shelters. From the silent deserted streets, the film moves underground into the world of Henry Moore's shelter drawings. People sit along subway platforms, looking after their children, settling down for the night, sleeping in bunks and on the floor. Above ground London burns. Henry Moore used the eye of a sculptor in portraying the stolidity and enduring patience of a besieged people. This film brings together a unique series of drawings which are some of the most remarkable achievements of an artist during wartime. Eliminating all narration, it explores, on several metaphoric levels, the very nature of human consciousness and creativity.

With the image of people descending, before a blitz, to spend a night in the subterranean, artery-like tubes of the subway system, the film draws us into the artist's inner mind, where the creative process occurs, and also into subconscious levels of experience - a dream world where fears and anxieties coexist with a curious stillness. We gain an insight here into how Moore's interests related for a while to those of the Surrealists. The film is calm, yet charged, an atmosphere complemented by the delicate yet tense music of Marius Constant. Remarkable in the film is the extent to which the illusionism of the drawing technique is sustained even under the camera's close-up scrutiny, so that we appear to be entering the tunnels. The organic forms of these caverns echo, but in hollow 'negative' as it were, the forms of the artist's figures: it is as if we were inside a Moore sculpture. We think of catacombs in which the faithful of previous eras took shelter. And the tangled lines of Moore's drawings resemble the barbed-wire of the battlefield.


'... pictures of exceptional quality. Silently the film demonstrates that great art can easily dispense with commentary, and the value of the drawings is thus enhanced. The newsreel sequences at the beginning and the end contribute in producing an impressive atmosphere.' UNESCO

'... captures these drawings and their detail with great mastery ... the editing is outstanding. With the aid of music which is very impressive and, at the same time, discreet, the film has succeeded in reproducing the essential feature of these drawings, which is not dependent on the representation of terror itself, nor on any particular milieu or the like, but solely on the greatness and dignity of man, as preserved in these catacombs of terror.' German Center for Film Classification

'A revelation: a strength and force disclosed, a mastery made clear.' Sunday Times, London

'It's uncanny, Anthony Roland, the master of the montage and dissolve ... The film melts moment by moment into a living and breathing homage to the people of London.' Michigan Education Journal


Silver Cup, Salerno
Honor Award, Vancouver
Certificate of Honor, Leipzig
Special Excellence, Mannheim
Exceptional Merit, Yorkton
Quality Award and
Quality Prize, French National Film Center
Highly Commended,German Center for Film Classification
Chriss Award, Columbus


Director: Anthony Roland
Original music: Marius Constant

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Catalog number #580

12 minutes Monochrome

Age Range: 14 to Adult

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