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The Big Mill (clip 2)

A poetic look at heavy industry

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The production of sheet steel at the Ravenscraig and Gartcosh Works of Colvilles Ltd. Lanarkshire. Ravenscraig steel works produced steel in many forms - to make cars and desks, bridges and ships for worldwide markets. In this clip we see the interior of the steel mill with slabs of steel passing through various machines in an artistic montage of colours and shapes.

Questions & Activities


  • Which was made first the documentary or the soundtrack?
  • This is a film about steel production, what is surprising about it? Does it remind you of anything?
  • Most documentaries tell a story from beginning to end. How do you think the cameraman and director cleverly achieved this?
  • Do you agree with the narrator that the shapes in the clip are 'beautiful'?
  • How do you think the long tracking shot of the conveyor belt was created?
  • Can you identify all the different objects in the clip?


Listen to the soundtrack without the image. Try to suggest what the film would be about. Then watch the clip and see the actual content. What surprises you?

There is some fantastic use of camera and colour in this clip. Choose your three favourite sections and explain why you have picked them.

Watch the clip again and create a list of any words that come into your mind associated with the soundtrack.

Take a section of film and list the colours, shapes and patterns that you see. Suggest what these are designed to make you feel. As a follow up write a poem based on one of the emotions you have identified.

List things you think may be made of steel, then research steel manufacturing to see if you were correct. Present your findings to the class.

What other ordinary objects can you find beauty in? Use digital cameras/mobile phones/sketch pads to investigate patterns and arragements of objects in your school.

Compare the representation of the shapes in the clip with artistic works such as William Morris' wallpaper designs, the collages of Kandinsky and Miro, decorative Isalmic art, Persian carpets and Tangram short films.

Create your own image which can be tiled, you could use this as a desktop background

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-073-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 0387
Date 1963
Genre Documentary, Sponsored
School Subject Music, Media Studies, Technologies, English, Expressive Arts, Art and Design
Who Colvilles Ltd (sponsor), Films of Scotland (sponsor), Laurence Henson (director), Templar Film Studios (production company)
Where Ravenscraig Mill, Motherwell
Event Heavy Industry
Attributes Colour, Sound
Clip Length 1:50
Film Length 25:00