John Grierson

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Grierson, John


Born Apr. 26, 1898, at Deanston. British film director. Graduated from the University of Glasgow.

Grierson headed the motion-picture division of the Empire Marketing Board in 1928; in 1933 he joined the General Post Office. The Fishing Banks of Skye (about fishing for herring in the North Sea), made in 1929, laid the foundations for the British school of documentary films. Grierson considered film primarily as a means for investigating and truthfully reflecting reality. A group of directors (P. Rotha, B. Wright. H. Watt, A. Elton, and E. Anstey) rallied around him to create films that pioneered in cinematic form and realistically depicted the daily work of people from different professions and the difficult living conditions of the poor. Prominent directors such as R. Flaherty (Grierson made the film Industrial Britain with him in 1933). A. Cavalcanti, and J. Ivens joined Grierson’s group. Grierson’s work was greatly influenced by the art and theoretical views of S. M. Eisenstein, V. I. Pudovkin. and D. Vertov. From 1939 to 1946 he worked mainly abroad, promoting active use of the film documentary (especially in Canada). Grierson has been a producer since the 1950’s.


Trutko, I. “Ot pionerov do ’rasserzhennykh.’” In the collection Kino Velikobritanii. Moscow, 1970. Pages 31–35.
Hardy, F., ed. Grierson on Documentary. London. 1946.
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