Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Stone Into Steel








I watch an awful lot of documentaries, public information films and the like. I don't know why, I like them and they make me feel happy and contented and, strangely, full of hope for a long gone age, usually one that I didn't ever experience myself. Some of the films are deadly dull, of course, but most make for riveting viewing, especially the ones about ship building. That was a riveting joke, by the way. 

My favourite film of many favourites is 'Stone Into Steel', from 1960. It shows us the process by which iron ore is extracted from rock and, eventually, turned into battleships and radio telescopes. It does all this in just over half an hour and, apart from some opening captions, no other explanation other than what we see on the screen - no dialogue, no commentary, just the odd bit of ambient noise and an ever changing modernist classical score by Edward Williams. Every frame is beautiful, and although the pace is gentle, it's never boring even if, like me, you have no specific interest in the steel industry. It was directed by Paul Dickson, who later went on to make episodes of 'Department S' and 'Jason King' - clearly, a very talented man.  

Frustratingly, I've been unable to illegally reproduce my nice, bright version of the film, so, if you're interested, for now you'll have to watch a scabby, faded copy on You Tube. Start here.

1 comment:

  1. I could have written that post word for word! I feel exactly the same way about these kind of documentaries and "Stone Into Steel" is a favourite of mine also. I have it as part of the BFI "Shadow Of Progress" DVD set. I just recently bought the BFI "Steel - A Century Of Steelmaking" set too and can't wait to get around to investigating it. Like yourself, I have no particular interest in steelmaking but there is something very beautiful about the way the industry is shot in documentaries like this and I echo your sentiment about feeling contentment and hope for a long gone age when you watch it.

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