BW 4/40 – Magna Carta
[SC – 30/06/11]

- [23/12/42] Phillip Guedalla to Professor Trevelyan (Master of Trinity College Cambridge?)
'You have probably forgotten a talk which we had shortly before the war about the possibility of your helping us in connection with a film on Parliament. Subsequent events knocked this out, and I have always regretted it deeply.
Mr Amery has recently suggested with, I think, a great deal of reason that a first-rate film might be made on the central theme of Magna Carta. Would no doubt indicate it as the root of our two traditions of personal freedom and government by consent, following each stream if development through it's successive stages in British, Colonial, and American tradition and evolution.
As in the case of our previous project, I feel that this theme could be developed on the screen by a succession of wisely selected pictures of the places associated with the events referred to, rather than by ill-judged and inevitably unconvincing reconstructions of historical events: e.g., by pictures of the Capitol and Supreme Court, rather than by charades of actors dressed up as Chief Justice Marshall and Abraham Lincoln. On the British side this should enable us to survey some of the loveliest buildings and country in the island in the course of our statement of the successive growth of British liberty.
But the essential is that the statement should be wisely drawn and so written that it can stand as the audible accompaniment to the picture. Is there a possibility that you could help to set us on the right lines?

- [?] PG to Rt Hon Leo S. Amery, M.P., India Office, King Charles St.
'The Air Ministry is doing it's best to accelerate my departure, for Cairo. So this may have to proceed in my absence.'

- 24/12/42 - PG to Kearney.
'I have mentioned this proposal to you. My letter to Trevelyan isn a full statement of what I have in mind, though Amery inclines more towards dramatic reconstructions for which I have little taste. It might be necessary to reconstruct the signing of Magna Carta itself, though I hope this could be done with a minimum of false beards. A hand signing, or sealing should do the trick. The rest of the episode might well be visuals of river banks and reeds and water at Runnymede, on a chanted background of Kipling's grand poem about it.
The way to do the successive shift of power in England from the crown to the people by way of the feudal Lords is to project the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, etc, followed by the great houses which ruled England (Warwick Castle, Chatsworth, etc), and then the successively smaller property which was enfranchised b successive Reform Acts, ending with rows of small houses and little people.'

- Prof. Trevelyan offers to help and write commentary

- 30/11/42 - 'B.Bracken' of MOI declines Amery's request for a film of this sort, and recommends the British Council.

- 31/12/42 - G M Trevelyan to PG
Arranges meeting. Also: "I am very much interested to hear of your important and romantic job, which is going take you so far afield."

- 12/01/43 - list of suggested locations. (photos)

- 12/01/43 - Guedalla to Kearney
' [Trevelyan] is the most eminent of living historians and an admirable prose writer; and as he has expressed his willingness both to write the necessary paragraphs and to invite the maker of the film to stay in the Master's Lodge at Trinity for consultation, you will agree that, from every point of view, we should take advantage of his generous and hopeful attitude.
When it comes to selecting a voice, I am strongly of the opinion that consideration should be given to Cecil Trouncer.

- 14/01/43 - Kearney to Mary Field, forwarding correspondence. Apparently she is unwell.

- 15/01/43 - Trevelyan is unable to see 'the National Trust film' on Feb 4th.

- 29/03/43 - PG gone to North Africa. Kearney endeavours to get a response from Field.

- People's Land, World Garden, & Power on the Land done by 09/04/43