About the film

Using diagrams, Atlantic explores the history of the empires surrounding the Atlantic Ocean over the last 600 years.


  • Release year - 1941
  • Director - Mary Field
  • Production company - GBI
  • Cinematographer - Brian Salt
  • Composer - Jack Beaver
  • Narration - Paul Merton
  • Supervision - Professor A.P. Newton
  • Diagrams - Diagram Films Ltd.
  • Running time (minutes) - 24 mins 55 secs

Original description

Empire round the Atlantic

'The course of history unfolds across the screen. Five hundred years ago the only known part of the Atlantic seaboard was the coast of Europe. Columbus sailed across the Atlantic in 1492, and John Cabot discovered Newfoundland in 1497. The task of opening up lands around the Atlantic has been shared by many nations. British, French, Dutch, Spaniards and Portuguese built empires and created free nations in the New World, contributing to the vast traffic passing backwards and forwards across the ocean.'

(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1941)

Did you know?

  • Atlantic was made with two companion pieces: Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. Sadly, the former of these has been lost and the status of the latter is unknown.
  • Professor A.P. Newton, who supervised the production of this film, prior to this had been Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at King's College London from 1920 to 1938.

All films are subject to the Creative Commons licence guidelines.

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