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I Remember, I Remember (clip 6)

Documentary giant, John Grierson on his shortened, re-edited version of 'Seawards the Great Ships'

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A personal account John Grierson of a life spent in documentary film-making. This film which takes the form of a masterclass was first screened at the 1968 Edinburgh Film Festival to mark John Grierson's 70th year and celebrate his importance to the development of the Scottish film and TV industry. In this clip Grierson talks about 'Seawards the Great Ships', the Oscar winning film for which he wrote the treatment. Go to clip 7 of this film.

Questions & Activities


  • What are all the different jobs you see?
  • John Grierson says this film is all about shape. Do you agree with this?
  • Why would Grierson's teacher have described Glasgow as shapeless?
  • What gives character and definition to a city?
  • Why has Grierson re-edited this Oscar-winning film and stripped out the narration in the clip?


Media Studies: Watch this re-edited clip and the four clips from the original film 'Seawards the Great Ships' (see links below). Discuss how re-editing the footage and removing the narration changes the impression and meaning of 'Seawards the Great Ships'. Are any new meanings conveyed? Or any meanings conveyed better?

Art and Design: One of the welders looks like a mediaeval knight. Make a Coat of Arms for him (and motto) based on the shapes you see in the shipyards.

English / Art and Design: Working in groups, pick your favourite image, images or sequence from this clip and explain to the rest of the class your choice(s). You might also want to think of metaphors to describe them.

Media Studies / Music / Computer Studies: This is Grierson's own edited version of 'Seawards the Great Ships'. Download the footage of each of the four original clips on this website and make your own short film to the musical accompaniment of your own choice. Other simpler exercises could be to simply write your own commentary to this shorter film and add it tot the footage using your editing software.

Dance: Choreograph or improvise your own dance to the soundtrack based on your impressions of the movements shown in the film.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-287-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 2232
Date 1968
Genre Documentary, Tv Doc
School Subject Dance, Media Studies, Art and Design, English, Music, Computing Science
Who Films of Scotland (sponsor), James Sutherland (director), John Grierson (writer), Scottish Television (production company)
Where Edinburgh Film Festival, Glasgow
Event Edinburgh Film Festival, Glasgow
Attributes Black and White, Colour, Sound
Clip Length 8:29
Film Length 53:08