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Documentary War Government sponsored film
- The 80 Days Alternative
The title refers to the period from June 1944, when a new lethal weapon, the V-1 flying bomb, was unleashed by the enemy, until September 1944, when the allies overran its launching sites on the French coast.
The unmanned missile, which could reach 400mph, carried a one-ton warhead and was instantly recognisable by its distinctive engine sound and flaming tail. Complete streets could be wiped out and, faced with this new terror, up to one and a half million Londoners fled the capital. Defensive measures included anti–aircraft guns and barrage balloons.
Humphrey Jennings, widely considered the most gifted of British documentarists, enlisted distinguished American broadcaster Edward R Murrow (subject of the 2005 biopic Good Night and Good Luck) to provide the commentary at the start and end of the film.
Jennings’ intercutting of shots of defensive action with everyday activities and his use of natural sound throughout made The Eighty Days an effective piece of morale-building propaganda during the war and a powerful record today.