Berlinale: Programme


Film file

Retrospective

This Happy Breed

Wunderbare Zeiten

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A chronicle of a London family from 1919 to 1939. WW I veteran Frank Gibbons moves to a house in the suburbs with his wife Ethel, their three children, his sister-in-law and Ethel’s mother. The family goes through a series of small dramas and real tragedies. When it’s time to move again, another war looms … The film, which premiered in the last year of WW II, is an excellent example of the realistic use of Technicolor in British film. As production supervisor Anthony Havelock-Allan said, “otherwise it would seem a small, grey play about a small, grey family that would look like a small grey film”. He got help from cinematographer Ronald Neame who aimed “to take the glory out of Technicolor and use colour in a new way, making the colours seem drab rather than bright”. Despite his bright lighting (“lighting for Technicolor is rather like drawing with a piece of charcoal after having got used to a very fine pencil”), the colours appear dusky. Colour accents come from the splendid women’s hats, Christmas decorations, the flags in a military parade and the golden dome of a mock Indian temple at the British Empire Exhibition, which is the only bright spot in the existence of the Gibbons.

United Kingdom 1944, 111 min

by

David Lean

with

Robert Newton
Celia Johnson
John Mills