Case Study 1

The Second Freedom - story of the film

Click on the images below to download a range of fascinating documents relating to the production of The Second Freedom.

  • The Second Freedom, 1943

The Second Freedom, 1943


The Second Freedom is a film about social assurance in Britain, explaining how maternity hospitals, education, unemployment benefits, and pensions are provided by the state.   It follows Jack Brown as he goes through life, and explores the various benefits he may receive as a result of National Insurance.

The film's tone could be described as idealistic, yet the first draft of the script was considered 'somehow patronising - and most depressing’!


Alterations were made, and the revised screenplay was far more positive with the social assurance system sounding less like paltry charity, more like a savings scheme.

However this led the Ministry of Health to worry that the film might mislead people with its idealism. They felt that Jack seems to receive a lot of state benefits, and worried that the average viewer 'would be able to distinguish that this is meant to be an ideal and not a real picture'.

The script was finally settled on after a number of revisions, and the production company - Verity Films - initially budgeted an excessive £2616 for the film - which would be the equivalent of £100,000 today! Needless to say this was later reduced on British Council's instruction to cut the lengthy narrative and thus the price.

The Second Freedom was largely shot in west London in late 1942 at the same time as Health of a Nation, though not all is as it seems - a number of locations in the film are actually sets, and many of the people seen in it are actors or paid extras.



Completed in 1943, the film was shown worldwide to mixed reviews. Feedback from New Delhi was positive, but feedback from Cyprus was extremely critical, citing the utopian tone as “doing more harm than good”.

Have a look at the finished film, The Second Freedom, by clicking here.