Penny Woolcock’s documentary From The Sea To The Land Beyond is a treasure trove of archive footage detailing life on Britain’s coast. It’s edited with intelligence and it features an atmospheric score by the band British Sea Power, who really seem to have put some thought into the way their songs should match the images and subject matter, reworking old material to suit certain themed segments. I’ve seen the film before, but it’s so packed with interesting footage it easily stands up to a re-watch, and I dare say I’ll happily sit through it again one day. This time round I was struck by the strength of two passages in particular: one relating to lifeboat crews, and one featuring foreign soldiers as they arrive in the UK prior to fighting in the Second World War (or perhaps they’ve already fought, but they don’t look dishevelled, injured or exhausted, so I very much doubt that’s the case). Also, I’d previously missed one of the overarching messages of the film, which is that despite the rapid social change that has affected the coast during the past hundred years or so – and the people who live and work there – much of it stays the same over time. Very little can date the footage of the sea, the rocks, the birds, the cliffs and the waves, except perhaps the film stock that was used.
Directed by: Penny Woolcock.
Editing: Alex Fry, Penny Woolcock.
Music: British Sea Power.
Running Time: 74 minutes.