Message From Canterbury - The Story of Canterbury Cathedral
(Alternative Title: Tale of Canterbury/Canterbury Cathedral)



Still_-_Canterbury_Cathedral.jpg
Still from 'Canterbury Cathedral' - Taken from 'Films of Britain 1942-43'
'The history of the Cathedral is told in a sermon by Archbishop Temple, Primate of all England. Three epochs stand out: the sixth century when Christianity was founded in Britain, the twelfth century when the new Church rose round the shrine of Thomas à Becket, and this century, with its problems of was and post-war reconstruction.' [1]

Date: 1944
Duration: 22:51

Director: George Hoellering
Production Company: Hoellering
Producer: George Hoellering
Cinematographer: D.P. Cooper, and H. Reece
Composer: Henry Purcell, Orlando Gibbons, and Thomas Tallis
Narration: The Most Revd and Rt Hon William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury
Editor: George Hoellering
Sound Recording: -
Scenario by: Emmanuel Strickland, and Michael Sylvester
Music Arranged by: Ludo Read, and Reverend (later Canon) Joseph Poole
Sung by: Canterbury Cathedral Choir
Conductor: Reverend (later Canon) Joseph Poole

Length: 35mm: -ft. 16mm:-ft.

Distributor: -

'A film produced by George Hoellering in co-operation with the Late Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. William Temple and the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury.'

Opening credits (rolling):
'"... from every shire's end
Of England to Canterbury they wend."

For centuries the pilgrims trod the roads which lead to the shrine of England's most famous Saint, where it lies in the heart of the fruit country, a land so rich that it is called "the garden of England."
Canterbury - the metropolis of the Church of England, where nearly 100 Primates of All England have been enthroned. Here the camera comes like a pilgrim to see the life of its people and their Cathedral in 1942; to hear the Archbishop as he speaks of yesterday, to-day and to-morrow, and delivers to the world the
Message from Canterbury.'

Notes:

Choral songs sung by the Canterbury Cathedral Choir: 'Fantasia' by Henry Purcell, 'Salvator Mundi' by Tallis, 'O Lord increase my faith' by Orlando Gibbons, and 'Remember not, Lord, our offences' by Henry Purcell.

"Ludo" Read was a pseudonym of Margaret Read (nee Ludwig), wife of poet Herbert Read.

Thomas Tallis, the composer of one of the featured songs, is only referred to as 'Tallis' in the credits, unlike the other composers which are referred to by their full names.

This title only appears in the 1942-43 Films of Britain catalogue, where it is listed under the title of Canterbury Cathedral as 'In Production'. This is because the British Council's Film Department and George Hoellering, who seems to have produced this film almost entirely by himself, argued for some time over the content of this film. Hoellering, a devout Christian, seemed to feel that the British Council's desired portrayal of the Church was not deferent enough, and was too much like propaganda. The footage was recut a number of times, to the complete satisfaction of neither party. The Archbishop declined to side with either party, though many letters were exchanged. Hoellering eventually declared his wish to make another film without the interference of the Council, but the Archbishop's office issued a statement in October 1943 that the Archbishop would not be involved in another film production.
Canterbury Cathedral was out of Hoellering's hands by this point, however. In early September 1943, the British Council demanded that Hoellering give to them all the film and negatives that he held in relation to this title, as the felt that he could not complete the film satisfactorily.[2]
It is assumed that the British Council then had another production company finish the film, as the BFI holds a copy of it. Whether or not it was ever distributed, however, is uncertain.

Though extremely different in tone and made by different production teams, this title bears a number of stylistic similarities to St. Paul's Cathedral. For example, both films open and close with shots of rooftop Christian crosses, both utilise cathedral choirs for the soundtrack, both relay the repeated destruction of their respective cathedrals, and both feature a similarly-styled re-enactment of an air raid.



Content Summary:

"The film opens with violin music and titles: "... from every shire's end Of England to Canterbury they wend. For centuries the pilgrims trod the roads which lead to the shrine of England's most famous Saint, where it lies in the heart of the fruit country, a land so rich that it is called "the garden of England." Canterbury - the metropolis of the Church of England, where nearly 100 Primates of all England have been enthroned. Here the camera comes like a pilgrim to see the life of its people and their Cathedral in 1942; to hear the Archbishop as he speaks of yesterday, to-day and to-morrow, and delivers to the world the Message from Canterbury."

Choral music begins, and views of a shepherd with sheep in a field, ploughing, and women harvesting grain. Inside the cathedral, a choir sings. The choir boys stand before the pews in choral gowns holding hymn sheets. With each toll of the bell, the view changes between cathedral, fields, landscape and farm animals. A siren begins. Sounds of planes and bombing accompanies views of a cloudy sky. Inside the cathedral, the noise of bombs and smashing glass is heard. The cathedral is seen from a distance and from beneath in the surrounding streets of Canterbury. Sculptures and paintings from the cathedral are shown. The siren sounds once more as the sun sets over the landscape.

Two men walk along a road wearing jackets, ties and hats to the sound of bell ringing. inside the cathedral, cross, candles, bishop and choir process to the altar. His Grace Dr. William Temple enters church. The congregation are seated. The sermon begins. He tells of the pilgrimage from Rome to England, undertaken by Augustine and the martyrdom of Thomas Beckett. Augustine was welcomed into Pagan Canterbury to establish a Christian community, church and monastery. Views of the abbey at Canterbury follow. Rebuilt after the Norman conquest in the Norman style, the church was once again rebuilt after a fire. Surviving Norman staircase and crypt are seen. "Its walls rise and fall, contract and expand in unison with the spirit of God within the people." Scenes of the high altar, nave, transepts and chapels follow. The cathedral is seen from a distance where "it strikes the beholder". Tracking shots through the streets of Canterbury to the cathedral follow. The narrative told by William Temple is illustrated by images of the events and sculpture portraying significant characters. After the church was vandalised in the 16th century by Henry VIII and again by iconoclastic puritans in the 17th century, bombs now reign down. Views of the vaulting, ceiling embellishment and stained glass windows follow. "By the mercy of god... our cathedral still stands, inspiring us to new works. We shall make this, our metropolitan church, once again the rampart of a missionary zeal." William Temple advocates one principle, that the resources of the earth should be used with due consideration for the needs of the present and future generation. Demanding dignity and decency of housing, equal opportunity for education, that every worker has a voice, every citizen should have sufficient leisure and holiday, liberty, freedom of worship, freedom of speech and freedom of association, to uphold a Christian social order. Appropriate scenes of slums, schools and coal workers accompany the sermon.

The congregation kneels in prayer. An intertitle reads "Remember not, Lord our offenses, nor the offenses of our forefathers, neither take thou vengeance of our sins, but spare us, good lord." A painting of Thomas Beckett is seen. William Temple and the processional party file out into the Chapel behind the high altar. Further footage of the cathedral from a distance and tracking footage of buttressing and windows along the nave's exterior follows. The shepherd features in the opening scenes closes the film."[3]
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  1. ^ Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1942-43
  2. ^ AA/AP/W. Temple
    W. Temple. 24,ff. 1-277; Sep 1942 - Oct1944
    W. Temple. 23,ff. 365 - 433; 12 Sep 1942 - 24 Sep 1943
    Held at the Lambeth Palace Library
  3. ^ Taken from the 'Message from Canterbury' entry for the Screen Archive South East, Brighton University.