Expertise, Planning, Socialism: Paul Rotha’s Films with the Isotype Institute
A political-cinematic initiative by the British government formed the backdrop for the cooperation of the British documentary filmmaker Paul Rotha with the Isotype Institute in Oxford, founded in 1942. During World War II the Ministry of Information (MoI) contracted with Rotha and a number of other directors for the production of documentary films. Along with several short films on topics such as blood transfusions (“Blood Transfusion”) and the prevention of household waste (“A Few Ounces a Day”), two longer programmatic films resulted from this cooperation: “World of Plenty” (1943) and “Land of Promise” (1945). Through scientific expertise and democratic planning, world hunger was to be conquered and a socially oriented housing program planned. Günther Sandner explores the history of these films, contextualizes them within their historical era and with respect to the intellectual biographies of their creators, and analyzes their often unusual and innovative stylistic approaches.
Günther Sandner studied political science and history. After working in politically oriented adult education and in scientific management, he directed a number of multiple-year research projects. His research and publications have focused on intellectual history, politics, logical empiricism, social democracy/Austromarxism, the political theory of the Third Way, and politics of the past. In recent years his research has centered primarily on the life and work of Otto Neurath (1882-1945). He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute Vienna Circle and an instructor in the Departments of Political Science and Economic and Social History at the University of Vienna. He also instructs political education at the Chamber of Labor’s Social Academy and is the Chair of the Interest Collective for Political Education (IGPB). In summer semester 2016 he was a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) at the LMU in Munich.
„Deviationist Perceptions. Leon Trotsky and Otto Neurath on the Balkan Wars“, in: Kathrin Boeckh, Sabine Rutar (Eds.), The Balkan Wars from Contemporary Perception to Historical Memory, Basingstoke 2016 (forthcoming); Otto Neurath. Eine politische Biographie, Wien 2014; Engagierte Wissenschaft. Austromarxistische Kulturstudien und die Anfänge der britischen Cultural Studies, Münster/Wien 2006.
Im April 1941 kontaktierte der britische Dokumentarfilmer Paul Rotha den seit Kurzem in Oxford lebenden Otto Neurath. Er stellte sich die Frage, ob die von Neurath entwickelten Piktogramme (Isotype) nicht auch in Filmen verwendet werden könnten. Daraus resultierte ein bemerkenswertes Kapitel in der Geschichte der britischen documentaries.