DVD: Betjeman – The Collection
Betjeman: The Collection features three of Britain’s former Poet Laureate’s BBC documentaries: A Passion for Churches (1974), A Bird’s Eye View (1969-71), and Four with Betjeman: Victorian Architects and Architecture.
Regular listeners to our podcast will know of my love of documentaries, and these BBC productions certainly don’t disappoint.
A Passion for Churches showcases Betjeman’s knowledge and passion for English churches. His softly spoken poetic narration draws the viewer into the subject matter, no matter what your views are on religion. The architecture and visual beauty of the churches are only matched by the enthusiasm that Betjeman clearly has on the subject.
A Bird’s Eye View gives exactly what the title suggests: a bird’s eye view of various locations which are important to English history. Filmed entirely from a helicopter, the sweeping landscapes, mansions and castles are once again accompanied by the slow and deliberate narration of John Betjeman.
Four with Betjeman: Victorian Architects and Architecture celebrates the famous architects associated with the Victorian Gothic Revival and includes the Houses of Parliament, the Natural History Museum, and Westminster Abbey among many others.
Despite the obvious lack of picture clarity due to the source footage being over 40 years old and from a time when plenty of BBC programmes have been lost forever, this series of documentaries is stunning throughout its entire running time, which in no small part is due to the obvious love that Betjeman has for all that he talks about.
Eschewing a more traditional narration style, Betjeman’s whimsical, softly spoken and casual approach has you utterly relaxed as you begin to appreciate the nuances of buildings that would otherwise have passed you by in the all too fast world which we live in today.
If you want to be educated, entertained and informed about a world around you that usually goes past in a blur, then settle down with a glass of your favourite drink and be prepared for a fantastically relaxing visual and aural experience.
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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from discs kindly supplied by Simply Media.