• Short Summary

    Reconstruction in Europe after bomb damage of the Second World War is documented.

  • Description

    c. 1950

    Documentary about the rebuilding of Europe after the Second World War. Leo Genn takes us back to the places he served in when he was in the army. Good shots of European landmarks and voiceover describing how Europe is now flourishing and thriving.

    Reel 1. Film opens with Leo Genn sitting in an armchair by a fireside looking at a photograph album. He explains that although he is an actor, he once was a soldier. He talks of how many soldiers dreamed of going back to the places they served in after the war was over. He asks a rhetorical question. "How is the Europe of today? Is its glory extinguished?" He speaks of Europe being "a continent in chaos" in 1945 and we see shots of bomb damaged buildings and food queues. Shots of liberating soldiers driving through a French city street in a tank. A woman sits on the front of an army vehicle waving and shouting. M/S of a woman pushing a baby in a pram through wrecked streets with a burned out car and rubble all around. Children play in on bomb sites and in a burned out car. A mother kisses a child who is leaving or returning on a train. War dead cemetery. C/U of a grave with a soldier's helmet lying on the ground in front of a wooden cross. M/S of tanks in a row. Montage of shots of soldiers returning "to civvy street and civvy clothes." Soldiers who have fought in Europe return on large passenger ships. They arrive back in England - no shots of meeting wives and girlfriends.

    VE day plus 5 years. Leo Genn returns to visit places he was stationed. Interior of an aircraft. Various shots of Leo and colleagues smoking and relaxing in their seats. View from inside a car of a French (?) shopping street and Danish port (Copenhagen?). Voiceover speaks of how busy the Danish shipbuilders are now.

    C/U of the prow of a ship "H.P. Prior" is the name on the side. Giant cranes are shown. Various shots of the docks. Leo and colleagues are at Elsinore shipyard. Leo talks of Shakespeare and Hamlet. Views from inside a car as the group travel through Danish village streets. C/U of Leo looking out of the car window at the countryside. C/U of the driver. "What a difference 5 years can make in a man's perspective." Comparison is drawn between digging the land for military purposes (foxholes or gun emplacements) and later for farming purposes. C/U of a Danish farmer. Man drives a tractor towards the camera. Leo speaks of food production in peacetime.

    A tractor manufacturing plant in Vienna is featured. Various shots of Leo and his colleagues looking at the vehicles on display at a Trade Fair. The company is Daimler Puch in the "Third Man Suburb". C/Us of tractors. Austria has rejoined the nations of Europe. Low angle of long flags and of a Marshall Plan exhibit - celebrating two years of the Marshall Plan. Some kind of pavilion or exhibition centre is open to the public. "No longer is the choice "guns or butter" in Goering's words" states the narrator. M/S of an exhibit which urges the opening of frontiers which Hitler has slammed shut. Scenic shots of Vienna - its Palace, statues, churches, municipal buildings etc. Under the portrait of Lenin the Russians have established an officers' club. Tanks permanently displayed in the streets are a forceful reminder of war. High angle shot of people walking towards the Vienna woods on a Sunday day out. Leo talks to some children who don't remember the war. Statue of the unknown Russian soldier on a high plinth is shown. Leo and colleague visit the Palace built by a marshal of Napoleon. They look at the view.

    Reel 2.

    Aerial shot of Rome - narrator speaks of how fortuitous it was that many great landmarks of Europe survived bombing during the war. Various shots of landmarks including the Castle de St Angelo (sp?). Street scenes. Sequence about the building of Rome's new railway station. Leo talks to ornately dressed Italian policemen. Workmen move bricks and rubble and shovel sand. Tracks are laid through street with trams driving through. Leo tries to describe the glories of Rome - he talks into a portable tape recorder. M/S of trams moving through city streets. Driver of a horse drawn cab (?) sits with his head in his hands looking bored. St Peters is seen in the distance at the end of a city street. Leo and colleague stand at the entrance to the Vatican. Various shots of the fountains and statues. He speaks of "pilgrims", tourists who come to Vatican City. Leo speaks to two theological students from Frankfurt. Leo and friend climb into a taxi. Views of Rome landmarks from the car window. Views of Italian countryside as they drive along the Appian (?) Way and into the Coliseum. Various shots of the Coliseum. Quote from Byron about the fall of Rome.

    Athens. Various shots of Greek landmarks. Acropolis. The Caryatids statues. Louis MacNeice the British poet joins Leo and his colleague. Byron's words about the Acropolis are recited by Leo. Views of the city below. Leo talks of the great poets and philosophers.

    Port of Athens. Hercules is mentioned. Various shots of the port. Leo and his friend arrive and look at the vie of the harbour. Fishermen prepare their boats. Leo talks to some fisherman. One poses in a shawl he inherited from his great grandfather or grandmother. Greece was almost starving after the war and fishing helped bring food to their table. Panning shot of various fish laid out at the market. Fisherman holds up an octopus to show the camera. C/U of a sack of flour. Man carries provisions on his head.

    Various shots of fishing boats in harbour. Leo states: "Out of the misery and chaos of war, Greece was rising again, so was Italy and Austria, and Denmark." Leo returns home with a message of hope: "that the people of the old world were learning to live and work together. From the people, for the people - all springs and all must exist" Shot of Leo and his colleague walking in silhouette against a sunset.


    Features Leo Genn. Music by Walter Goehr. Script - W. Richardson. Photography - George Stevens and Bernard Till. Sound - W.S. Bland, George Newberry and Jack Miller. Editor - A. Michelin. Produced by Terry Ashwood.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    British Pathé
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Black & White
    Time in/Out:
    01:22:53:00 / 01:38:55:00

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