Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Under Fire (1941)

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Documentary - British Ministry of Information

Watch Christmas Under Fire at

It is not terribly surprising that most of the documentaries nominated for Academy Awards during World War II focused on the war.  For the Oscar ceremony held on February 26, 1942, nominated documentaries included such films as Churchill's Island, Bomber, Norway in Revolt, Soldiers of the Sky, Warclouds in the Pacific, and a pair of films from the British Ministry of Information, A Letter From Home and Christmas Under Fire.  These films ranged from blatant and borderline ridiculous propaganda that can only been appreciated when one reminds him/herself repeatedly that "this is from a different era"to some surprising gems.  Though Christmas Under Fire has some uncomfortable moments "of its time," namely a reference to the non-western world as uncivilized, it is a moving, simple documentary short.

Featuring narration by journalist Quentin Reynolds (of The Man Who Wouldn't Talk fame), Christmas Under Fire is one long montage of clips of Britons still celebrating Christmas despite enduring the Blitz by German bombers.  By the time of Christmas, 1940, the Blitz had already been in effect for more than three-and-a-half months, and some of the images captured depicting the effects of the Blitz are unforgettable.  One in particular which comes at the end of the film, shows dozens of people camped out and celebrating Christmas in the Tube.  It is hard to imagine just how much Britons endured during the more than eight months they were under siege.

Most of the wartime documentaries are interesting as historical relics, but few are actually compelling in the present day.  Christmas Under Fire is one of the few exceptions.

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