BFI 100Movies

BFI 100: 89 – Fires Were Started (1943)

Here we continue, what will probably eventually become known as, the ill-fated journey of watching each of the British Film Institute’s 100 best films of the 20th Century. Starting at 100 and working my way to Orson Welles’ The Third Man at number 1. I’ll try to keep these blogs relatively spoiler free and I’ll consider them only a small record of moving through this series.

© Crown Film Unit
© Crown Film Unit

We continue our second world war theme into film number 89 with Humphrey Jennings pseudo-documentary on the war-time fire services across the United Kingdom; Fires Were Started. While this is a fiction, it tells the story of a sub-fire station and its officers not with actors but rather using the firemen themselves and this lends the film a veracity and immediacy it may not have achieved otherwise. Coming hard on the heels of a light wartime comedy, the affecting, frightening realism of Jennings film is particularly stark; dropping you at first into the firehouse as we are introduced to a new recruit, all the way through to an out-of-control fire on the wharf as the film reaches its climax.

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