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Harry Birrell: Films of Love and War

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Matt Pinder


In 1928 at the age of eleven, Harry Birrell was given his first cine camera. ‘The greatest toy a child could ever receive’ he would say. His obsession with making movies would span the rest of his life despite the onset of blindness. In love, war and other adventures Harry recorded everything with a wonderfully cinematic eye on thousands of feet of high quality 16mm film.

From commanding a battalion of Ghurkas in the Indian army at the start of the WWII, to dangerous sorties deep behind enemy lines in Burma at its end; From the Ballroom dances of his youth in the 1930s to teaching his children to twist in the 1960s, Harry’s entertaining and errant adventures are filmed with the intimacy of home movies but on the scale of Lawrence of Arabia.

Today, his granddaughter Carina, uncovers a lifetime of memories all spliced together in over 400 films, personal diaries (narrated by Richard Madden) and countless photographs that have previously lay unseen.

It’s one man’s cinematic vision of the 20th Century and his own personal journey through it.


Type of film
Running Time
90 mins
Matt Pinder
John Archer, Carina Birrell, Matt Pinder
Executive Producer
David Harron, Mark Thomas, Ewan Angus
Colin Monie, Matt Pinder
Director of Photography
Harry Birrell
John Cobban
Ian Dolamore


Production status


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Last updated 27th June 2019

Production Company

A Hopscotch Films Production.
Co-commissioned by BBC Scotland and supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Hopscotch Films
John Archer
Film City Glasgow
401 Govan Road
G51 2QJ
+44 (0)141 440 6740