To-day We Live A Film of Life in Britain (1937)

Britain – rural and industrial – is captured by the British documentary movement in a film that includes some very famous shots epitomising the Depression years.

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Alternative titles

  • Today We Live Alternative


Today We Live is several films in one. After a sweeping introduction, two documentaries shot by two different production teams are entwined to show us, in parallel, how rural and industrial Britain alike are coping with the depression.

As with many documentaries of the time, much of this is shown in scenes re-enacted by ordinary people. It was unusual then for a documentary to include so many sequences filmed on location using ‘live’ sound: not used to appearing before film cameras, the subjects are often awkward in their ‘performances’.

Ruby Grierson directed a crew filming mainly among women in Gloucestershire with tenderness and humour. Ralph Bond headed a team in the Rhondda valley, shooting mainly among men with passion and visual power. Both communities apply for funds to build community centres to help them weather the depression's effects: the film was sponsored by the National Council for Social Service, a voluntary organisation that encouraged and funded local activity. The Big Society of its day? The film makes clear that while such efforts help ease some of the worst effects of recession, they aren't enough to solve underlying problems with the way society is run.

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