Pandaemonium: 1660-1886, By Humphrey Jennings


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The Independent Culture

Jennings's cut-up panorama of the Industrial Revolution famously inspired the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. It is not so much an anthology as a film in prose, where every scene or shot helps to shape the whole.

An essay by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the screenwriter who first gave the book to Danny Boyle, traces its strange route from the obsessive project of a 1940s Surrealist film-maker to creative DNA of a worldwide sensation.

With its fabulous montage of sources, this is a unique window into a national past, and a global present.