This film is part of Free

Bradford: A Surprising Place

It's 'Bradford - The Movie' - a glossy and very 1980s Pennines promo.

Promotional 1981 13 mins


Surprising is the word: Bradford hits the 'brand refresh' button hard in this glossy promo. Enticing trade and tourists to the city and its hinterlands, the collage of images highlights transport links and leisure, the proximity of town and country, and the synergy of industrial heritage with hi-tech innovation. On the voiceover-free soundtrack traditional brass counterpoint contemporary synths.

Among northern councils, Bradford's stood out for meeting the challenges of industrial change, so devastating to so many cities, by reinventing itself as a site for tech investment and tourism. This film is part of that strategy. In form it echoes 'city symphonies' of the 1920s, but in 1981 it's anything but avant-garde: it comes across today as a peculiarly bittersweet mixture of the up-to-date and the dated, art with kitsch. Underscoring the council's ambition, it's lovingly photographed on film stock (in 1981, such a film could much more cheaply have been produced on video) which helps to give it a certain epic sweep, but with its share of faintly absurd 1980s trappings. Unsurprisingly, its vision of Bradford is relentlessly upbeat. Less forgivably, it's almost literally a whitewash - the virtual absence from the screen of Bradford's Muslim community is not so much 'surprising' as rather shocking.