“Go Away Back to Berwick and Die!” – “The Blackhill Campaign” (1963), the Coal Industry and the British New Wave

Title

“Go Away Back to Berwick and Die!” – The Blackhill Campaign (1963), the Coal Industry and the British New Wave

Reference

The Moving Image, vol. 10, no. 2 (2010), pp. 83-103.

Abstract

This article examines the production and release history of The Blackhill Campaign (UK, 1963, dir. Jack Parsons), a feature-length documentary about the political controversy precipitated by the closure of a coal mine in Northumberland in 1959.  It was made almost single-handedly by a sociologist and amateur filmmaker, who had no previous experience of film production before embarking on the project.  The article argues that the film is significant for two essential reasons.  Firstly, being an amateur production, it articulates a political perspective not found in any of the mainstream media of the time, criticising the role of both the employer and the trade union in the dispute.  Secondly, because the filmmaker returned to his former career as an academic and did not make any further films, The Blackhill Campaign was quickly forgotten and remained a lost film for over three decades.  I therefore argue that this represents an important case study as to how films can come to be orphaned.

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