Target for Tonight

January 26, 2009

One of the areas I’ve tried to discuss as the course moves on is the way in which the bombing campaign was represented at the time. Below is one of the key films relating to this subject, the Crown Film Unit’s Target for Tonight (1941), in five youtube clips. Further details of the film can be found at screenonline. Again, think about what this film tells us both as a source on Bomber Command itself, and as a source on how it was represented. Bear in mind the situation the Command was in when the film was made, and its reception both within the RAF and amongst the general public. Those interested could read – K.R.M. Short ‘RAF Bomber Command’s Target for Tonight (1941)’, Historical Journal of Radio, Film and Television 17, 2, 1997.

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‘Bomber’ Harris

January 6, 2009

In a famous and much quoted speech at the start of 1943, Air Chief Marshal Harris, AOC Bomber Command, makes a public statement about his hopes for British bombing. Who is he talking to? How do his words relate to the Command’s capabilities?


Things to Come

December 22, 2008

An extract from Alexander Korda’s 1936 film of H.G. Wells 1933 book The Shape of Things to Come, in which war and plague devastate mankind until the setting up of a beneficent ‘Dictatorship of the Air’. In this famous sequence from the start of the film, an air raid hits a town (from about 2 minutes 30 seconds in). The film – whilst probably more of a critical than a commercial success – was fairly popular on its release (thanks to Brett Holman for this information). Things to think about: What does this extract tell us about the public discussion of airpower between the wars? How effective is it as a piece of film-making? Should we see the reactions of the crowd in the film as typical of pre-war fears?