This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 6184).


Scenes of post-war Burma. The funeral procession is most likely that of Bogyoke Aung San (leader of the AFPFL - Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League - prior to Burma's independence in 1948) and several Executive Council members, assassinated 19 July 1947 in Rangoon.

Close-up of a Burmese man writing in a small note pad with a fountain pen, holding a cigar in the other hand. Burmese women handing out food from trays to passers-by in the street. The funeral procession of Aung San and six Executive Council members. Cars parked in a line. Women wearing black armbands and carrying parasols. Scenes of the funeral procession and the coffins covered in flowers on wooden carriages. Buddhist monks form part of the procession. A jeep covered with a red-cross flag and Burmese script. Buddhist monks and women hand out water in small bowls to the people in the procession. Jockeys in their silks and several British men also in the procession. Men carrying large floral wreaths. A blackboard with a notice in Burmese script. A small boy and more Buddhist monks hand out water in small bowls. A group of Indians in the procession. More water is handed out. Further shots of one of the coffins and the procession heading off into the distance. A handpainted intertitle - "Sun Rise". A Burmese man jumps off a ship, joins two others in the water, one of which has the ship's rope. They swim ashore and one secures the rope. Two men on the ship secure the rope. A sign (on the ship?) reads 'Sale' (a town on the banks of the Irrawaddy). Scenes of sacks lined up on the riverbank. Close-up of the sacks being stitched closed. General shots of people on the riverbank, some with large baskets. The Burmese men take the ship's rope ashore and secure it. Women selecting vegetables? A small child in a chair, an older woman prompts the child to look at the camera (reversed). People disembarking from a small boat to a larger one. A man winds an oil drill? Close-up of the drill-bit? Shots looking up a shaft. Scenes looking out over the river. Gulls, some slow-motion. Close-up on the name of a boat, 'Panhlaing'. Boats on the river, the wake of a boat, another shot of a gull. A boat coming into Rangoon harbour, a barge behind it. Brief shot of Panhlaing. A close-up of the number 200, two men on the quayside seen from an incoming boat. Several men working a capstan to raise the boat's anchor. Scenes around the harbour. A sign on a roof reads 'Steel Brothers & Co Ltd Incorporated in England' Barges heavily laden with sacks are rowed across the water. Close-up of a red flag with a white spot. More scenes of the harbour including traditional (banana shaped) Burmese boats. A (teak?) logging plant on the river (reversed). Logs are lifted by cranes. Another is dragged onto the floor and sprayed with water. Close-up of waste water? coming out of a pipe. Several Burmese men guide a log being lowered. A British man inspects the teeth of a huge saw. The saw is shown in operation, cutting logs into planks. Chippings and off-cuts are carried in baskets to the furnace. The letters ABR are stencilled onto a piece of wood. Blocks of wood are stacked. Shots of the Shwedagon Pagoda and a chinthe. Woman carrying a baby. Women and children in the street. Buddhist monks, women (some wearing thanaka make-up) and children leaving the temple, putting their shoes back on. "The End O.H.M.S." Title shows an illustration of two chinthes, a peacock and an outline map of India and Burma.


Allocated Title taken from Hodgkinson's original can markings.

Stock date on Kodachrome is 1942

Technical: marked "Original"

Some scenes also on MGH 6197 and MGH 6203 (some reversed)

This film probably formed part of "The Changing East" programme of feature films which Hodgkinson made, presented and narrated at venues around Britain. See printed programme in Acquisition File.



Louis Allen has argued that Britain’s main interest in Burma was ‘mercantile’ and that the main profits from developing the country’s resources in oil, timber and minerals went to the British, Chinese and Indians, rather than to the Burmese themselves (Allen, 1984, 12-13). It is his belief that, as a result, it was ‘hardly surprising’ that there was a strong nationalist movement in Burma prior to the Second World War (Allen, 1984, 13).

During the War Burma was fought over twice: first, during 1942, as Allied forces retreated in the face of the Japanese advance; then in 1944-45 when the Allies forced the Japanese from the country. Many Burmese nationalists initially sided with the Japanese during their occupation, and in August 1943 the Japanese allowed the Burmese to form an ‘independent’ government, which declared itself at war with the Allies. However, by the latter stages of the War some nationalists had transferred their allegiance to the Allied forces, among them Aung San, who had been serving as Minister of Defence in the new Burmese government. In March 1945, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, head of the Allies’ South East Asia Command, met with Aung San and decided that his support should be endorsed by the British, believing that it was wise to work with the people who were likely to become ‘national heroes’ following the War (Allen, 1984, 583).

Aung San’s Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League party was strongly represented in the civil government that was restored after the War. In January 1947 he secured an agreement from the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee that Burma would achieve full independence within a year (Allen, 1984, 589). There was, however, discord with various Burmese political factions. On 19 July 1947 members of the Burmese Communist Party attacked a cabinet meeting, killing seven members of the AFPFL, including Aung San. On 4 January 1948 the Independent Union of Burma came into being, led by Aung San’s successor U Nu; almost immediately Burma was plunged into civil war, the main protagonists being Communist insurrectionists and members of the Karen ethnic group who were campaigning for their own separate state (Stockwell, 2001, 484). The funeral march of Aung San and the other AFPFL members was not held until 11 April 1948. More than half a million witnessed the procession in Rangoon when the leaders’ coffins were transferred to a specially created mausoleum (Oung, 1996, 47).

The footage seen in Mandalay-Rangoon was shot by Lieutenant Colonel Frank Outram Hodgkinson in 1947 and 1948. It probably formed part of his ‘Changing East’ programme of films, which he presented during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The pamphlet produced to accompany these screenings describes Hodgkinson as a ‘British film producer and writer’ who ‘knows the East from long years of residence and professional film making’. It states that ‘During the war he commanded a British Film Unit under Lord Louis Mountbatten’, indicating that he was in charge of the British section of the Anglo-US film unit that formed part of Mountbatten’s South East Asia Command (SEAC). Mandalay-Rangoon and ‘The Changing East’ are not composed of film shot for official military purposes, but instead compiled from Hodgkinson’s own amateur colour films.

‘The Changing East’ was toured throughout Britain: the pamphlet boasts of screenings at professional venues (‘The Reardon Hall was packed to capacity’), factories (‘over 3,000 workers from Armstrong-Vickers’ attended’), the House of Commons, and finally ‘a Command Performance at Buckingham Palace’. Hodgkinson edited his footage into three ‘feature length’ films, covering ‘Burma and Siam’, ‘India’, and ‘Kashmir’, which he would accompany with his own ‘viva voce commentary’. Each film showed different aspects of ‘The Changing East’. The Burma section was structured chronologically, beginning with the country as it was before the war –  ‘peaceful, happy and gay’ –  and culminating with the ‘victory parades and tribal dances’ that followed the Allies’ victory. Hodgkinson’s message regarding Burma was that, here, ‘The Changing East spells anxiety’. The pamphlet describes ‘two bitter invasions’ and a country in ‘constant fear from armed rebels and Communism’.



There are two principal reasons why Mandalay-Rangoon should be valued. The first is because it captures important historical footage; the second is because this footage is in colour.

The filmopens with shots of a funeral procession. Although it has not been confirmed that this is actually that of Aung San and the other murdered cabinet members, the scale of the events would seem to confirm that this is the case. There are thousands present, and the procession is an elaborate and prestigious affair: monks and serving ladies are on hand to distribute food and water to the crowds; we see a row of expensive cars which have conveyed attendees to the funeral; European and Indian guests are in attendance. Some of the events Hodgkinson captures correspond with reports of the final funeral march. He films members of the police and the regular army, who were enlisted to keep order, and it is also made obvious that more than one person is being laid to rest: several coffins can be seen (see Oung, 1996, 47-48).

If the funeral represents the ‘Rangoon’ section of this film, then the designation of the remaining footage as ‘Mandalay’ is confusing. Rather than depicting Burma’s second-largest city, this footage instead begins by focussing upon industrial activities taking place in the Burmese countryside, before returning to Rangoon, where we see more workplaces. In both the city and the countryside Burmese workers can be seen undertaking some of the trades whose profits were predominantly diverted away from them. Hodgkinson films a timber yard, what appears to be an oil rig, and also the buildings of ‘Steel Brothers & Co Ltd Incorporated in England’.

In the black and white footage of reoccupied Burma that can be seen in SEAC films such as Feeding the Poor in Rangoon (1945) the country looks drab and damaged after the years of fighting. Mandalay-Rangoon presents a more diverse picture: while there is evidence of the War (we see soldiers during the funeral parade), the film is also vibrant: colour is everywhere and it attracts Hodgkinson’s eye. He captures the dynamic range of shades in the clothes of the people who attend the funeral, including Buddhist monks dressed in orange robes, elegant women in bright pinks, greens and purples, and (unexpectedly) jockeys dressed in their colours; he also concentrates on the display provided by floral wreaths at the funeral; elsewhere he is drawn to the rust-coloured trees of the Burmese countryside and to white gulls, which he films against a dark blue sky.

It would be interesting to know how the footage contained in Mandalay-Rangoon was represented in ‘The Changing East’ (the Imperial War Museum holds a copy of the latter half of the Burmese section of ‘The Changing East’, which culminates with some of the industrial scenes that are on display here. It is not clear if the scenes of the funeral were included in the first half, which the Museum does not hold). Although Hodgkinson wished to convey ‘a sense of anxiety’ in his portrayal of contemporary Burma, this is not what comes across most strongly in these sequences. In fact, a different description that is included in the pamphlet is more appropriate: Sir Richard Acland M.P. describes the Burma segment of The Changing East an ‘Absolutely smashing film in colour’. In Mandalay-Rangoon this description is applicable even to the funeral procession. Here, despite the military and police presence, what comes across most strongly is the sheer spectacle of this event. The industrial footage is more mundane. However, rather than portraying anxiety, it shows the daily life of Burma continuing: could this perhaps be the reason for Hodgkinson placing this footage at the close of his portrayal of Burma in the Changing East?

Richard Osborne (July 2010)


Works Cited

Allen, Louis, Burma: The Longest War 1941-5 (London and Melbourne: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1984).

Oung, Kin, Who Killed Aung San? (Bangkok: White Lotus, 1996).

Stockwell, A. J., ‘Imperialism and Nationalism in South-East Asia’, in The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV: The Twentieth Century, ed. by Judith M. Brown and Wm. Roger Louis (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 465-89.



  • MANDALAY - RANGOON (Allocated)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
10 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Hodgkinson, Frank Outram (Lieutenant-Colonel)