How our winter weather nearly won an Oscar  

This is a guest post written by Associate Curator of Railway Collections, Simon Batchelor.

Now that Bonfire Night and Remembrance Sunday have passed we can begin to look forward to winter, and for film buffs that means the start of awards season. The Globes, The BAFTAs and The Oscars cast a golden glow across the dark nights, distracting us with promises of glamour and glitz. It is perhaps surprising therefore that among the nominees for an Oscar in 1965 there was a short documentary about the British weather.

1991-7829 Nomination for Award, Laminated certificate for “Snow” 1965.

1991-7829 Nomination for Award, Laminated certificate for “Snow” 1965.

Snow was produced by British Transport Films and depicts the efforts taken by British Railway staff to keep the rail network running through the winter of 1962-1963. The Director, Geoffrey Jones, had been asked to produce a design for the British Railways Board, however whilst reviewing footage he had taken a new idea began to form in his head. He approached Edgar Anstey the head of British Transport Films with the idea of producing a film contrasting the experiences of warm comfortable passengers with those of the men working to keep the trains running. Anstey agreed and Jones, along with his cameraman Wolfgang Suschitzky, set off around the country to film the railwaymen at work.

Snow was released to great acclaim, it was shown at film festivals across the world receiving certificates and awards from at least 14 organisations between 1963 and 1965.
Geoffrey Jones went on to make two more films for British Transport Films and also worked on documentaries for British Petroleum and Shell.

Edgar Anstey was head of British Transport Films until 1974. He worked alongside directors such as Ralph Keane (two of his BTF films were to receive Oscar nominations), Patrick Carey (whose BTF film Wild Wings was to win an Oscar in 1964) and John Schlesinger (who went on to win an Oscar for Midnight Cowboy).

Wolfgang Suschitzky went on to win a gold medal for his cinematography on Snow at the 1966 Guadalajara festival and had a distinguished career in documentary, cinematic and television film. His most well-known film, to British audiences at least, is the 1971 classic Get Carter.

Bibliography;

“Snow”

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/1234415/index.html

Edgar Anstey

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/469723/index.html

Geoffrey Jones

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/1361686/index.html

Wolfgang Suschitzky

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0839807/

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4 Responses to How our winter weather nearly won an Oscar  

  1. “Snow” truly is an amazing film, and still stands up today as a great piece of social commentary and branded content along with the genius of “Terminus”, too. As a filmmaker myself I think it’d be great for the NRM to be funding this kind of work today…I’d really like to have a chat about doing something along these lines… who’s the best person to talk to at the NRM? Thanks!

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