This film is held by the BFI (ID: 227169).


Survey of the British Empire in 1944 and the future problems with which it is likely to be faced.

Opening Titles. 'No 1 Tenth Year. The March of Time', 'In this issue. British Imperialism'. Film opens with footage of British and US troops; commentary talks of Britain as serving as 'the main Allied base and bastion of Western Europe' and the people of Britain and the United States 'growing together into an ever closer wartime partnership'. Footage of war-damaged London and presence of Australian troops in the city; commentary outlines the support of Dominion countries and the colonies in the Allied cause. Over shots of London landmarks the commentary spells out the film's purpose of surveying the British Empire in which 500 million people live in 'varying degrees of freedom'. World map, showing the countries of the British Empire: 'How well Britain can hold this loose worldwide structure together at war's end is of enormous importance for the future'. Exterior and interior shots of Colonial Office in London, commentary outlines that, although most Empire countries 'are allowed a greater or lesser measure of self-government, their code of law comes from Britain's parliament'. Outlining of Dominion countries as 'free and self-governing states whose association with the commonwealth is purely voluntary'. Footage of Dominion leaders at the Empire Conference, held in London, May 1944. Return to world map; focus on Australia and New Zealand. Profile of Australia, providing background to British settlement of the country and concentrating on its trade in livestock and burgeoning industrial power. Commentary states that Australia is seeking 'more economic self-sufficiency' and is feeding new war markets 'outside the Empire'. Footage of Australian troops: 'Australians found that for their defence against Japan, they must look to the United States, more than to the Empire'. Shots of Australian parliament in session. Commentary summarises that Australia's future is 'not with the Empire alone, but with the United States as well'. Profile of 'prosperous' New Zealand. Scenes of ploughing and of dairy farming: UK described as New Zealand's 'chief market'; US forces in Pacific as recipients of New Zealand's produce. Footage of newly-built suburbs and of New Zealanders enjoying leisure pursuits. Commentary summarises that 'New Zealand is not likely to aim at economic self-sufficiency for she has found ample prosperity in her own pastoral economy'. Return to world map; profile of Canada, 'the biggest, and perhaps most important of the Dominions'. Shots of government buildings; description of Canada's citizens with British heritage having 'deep-seated attachment to the crown'. Footage of a city in Quebec: in French-Canada there exists 'marked indifference and even hostility to British imperialism'. Footage of wheat fields and then of trains in a goods yard: 'Today Canada is ridding herself of her dependence on agriculture for war has brought enormous industrial expansion throughout the Dominion'. Commentary outlines that Canada will 'inevitably' develop closer economic ties with the US and that 'geographically, Canadians consider themselves first as North Americans and second as members of the commonwealth'. World map; focus on South Africa: 'Among the Dominions the one whose ties to Britain are weakest is the young and rich union of South Africa'. Footage of black and white citizens in a South African city. Commentary outlines the facts that among the white minority only 30% are British, and that South African's '8 million natives' far outnumber Europeans.

Ethnographic footage of a tribal village. Over footage of black workers in a mine the commentary sates that black population is kept in 'political and economic inferiority'. Footage of Field-Marshall Jan Smuts and other South African leaders: 'In 1939 it was only by the narrowest margin that South Africa voted to support Britain in the war, yet this support, once voted for, was given in massive proportions'. World map; focus on India, 'which for over two centuries has been a British problem'. Footage of busy Indian streets. Commentary outlines that the basis of British rule in India was in trade and that 'the benefits of British rule have been by no means negligible'. Footage of impoverished Indians and argument that the caste-system of the Hindu religion is the cause and perpetuator of this poverty. British have introduced reforms if not greatly improving economic conditions. Footage of new developments: schools, hospitals, irrigation systems, industrialisation. Over footage of Indian governmental buildings commentary argues that 'the Indians have felt, that for all that it¿s accomplished, British rule has been the rule of conquerors'. Shots of British people being wheeled in a rickshaw by Indians and playing golf using Indian caddies. Footage of Japanese triumphs in south-east Asia: 'out of the smashing and humiliating defeats Japan inflicted upon those who have so long been masters came a new conception of Asia for Asiatics'. Footage of Sir Stafford Cripps on mission to India; Cripps with Gandhi; Mohammed Ali Jinah. Outlining of political problems in India: division between Hindus and Muslims; rejection of Cripps' proposal for Dominion status for India at War¿s end; proposals for divided countries of India and Pakistan. Footage of London: Tower Bridge; King inspecting British troops; No. 10 Downing Street; Churchill; Colonial Offices in Whitehall. Over shots of Australian and British servicemen enjoying R&R in London the commentary concludes that 'though their empire was not built without wrongs and injustices, Britons can proudly boast that their imperialism yet remains the widest system of organised freedom which has ever existed in history'. Shots of Houses of Parliament. Ends.



  • BRITAIN AND HER EMPIRE (Alternative)

Technical Data

Running Time:
18 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
1611 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Production Company
Time Inc