Robert Kruger

Family name: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
18 Apr 2000
Production Media: 
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[NB This is an edited extract of a letter from Robert Kruger to Rodney Giesler, dated 24th February 1999, about a year prior to the interview. DS]

…In case you wish to give the matter some thought in the meantime, I will now produce - not a full CV but a short outline of my career.

On leaving school in 1942 at a very young age - a time of regulations, registrations etc I ended up, with the help of the Ministry of Labour, at a News Cinema in Manchester - The Tatler, as trainee projectionist and then trainee Assistant Manager. Labour was very short of course then.

In the summer of 1944, I joined Films of Fact Ltd, Paul Rotha's unit - as a general trainee, but drifting mainly into the cutting room.

In 1948 I joined DATA as assistant editor on Mining Review, which, from about 1950, I edited. As well as some other films.

At the start of 1960 I joined Paul Rotha at Real Films, Studio Hamburg to edit his feature-length documentary The Life of Adolf Hitler. On returning to the UK in the autumn of 1961 I joined the National Coal Board's Unit (DATA having closed down) where I worked on a great number of films until the unit closed down at the time of the 1984/85 Miner's strike. Editing, directing (only a few) and producing for many years the old Mining Review (now Review). But l went as a free-lance, which gave me the opportunity to do much else besides.

3 educational films for example for the West German Government on 'The Origins of National Socialism', but above all a great deal of work in the Netherlands. The first was a feature directed by Paul Rotha which was immensely successful as a result of which a group of us (as you know this happens often in features) continued to make films - some 8 features and a number of documentaries together. For a time, some 20 years, we were something like sliced bread, but by the early 80s we had got older, and became what 20 years earlier we had thought of as 'Cinema Papa' ourselves. Our last feature was in 1980, I think.

As you can see, I was very fortunate in managing these two quite separate careers if you like - all at the same time.

Another venture of, I think, interest was images for Education Films, which Peter Pickering, Charles Griffiths and I set up in the late 60s and which existed until I went to Plymouth in 1985 or 86. We made something like 50 films together; what was interesting about this was that the company's purpose was not to make a profit but to make films for educational, social etc. use for and with organisations that couldn't otherwise have films at all.

When the Coal Board Unit ended, I joined Television South West (TSW) where I made about 60 programmes. As these were all archive-film based programmes for a company that did not have an archive I formed, as it were, the nucleus or seed of what is now [in 1999] the TSW Film and Television Archive.

When TSW lost its franchise, I did too.

I hope that this is of some help.

You asked me I think to suggest some further names that ought to be recorded if possible. At this moment I can think of Deh-ta Hsuing, who edited Review for many years at the Coal Board as well as other films, and worked at a number of Units before that and who, since the end of the Coal Board has become a well-known writer on Chinese food, recipes, teaching and so on.

Peter Pickering, a film-maker I think to have been of very great importance and one who is able to talk on a great number of subjects. He joined Paul Rotha, sometime before being called up in 1941/42 - after being de-mobbed he was one of the early members of DATA. Subsequently i.e. joined the Coal Board where he worked off and on until it ended. A brilliant writer he was certainly one of the most significant directors at the NCB. As mentioned earlier he was a director of Images for Education Films; indeed, it was his idea in the first place. During the 60s he worked elsewhere making educational films; many of them quite original. During this time, he also became a teacher. l have to say that his ideas, which pour out of his mind in an unstoppable flow, but above all his self, have always been an inspiration to me as to many others. He too is now getting just a bit older and has had a by-pass operation (but is well) - I miss him greatly. His address is 43 Kings Road, Canton, Cardiff CS1 3DA. He is, above all, perhaps, a writer. Mainly of what one should or could call avant-garde novels. I know you would find him very interesting. Mind you, I have mentioned this to neither of them.

As you can see, I have been incredibly lucky. This is due above all, as I am sure you will agree, to the fact that I was born on a Sunday. In our interview I would hope (this is just my opinion of course) that we would talk more of 'issues' rather than of 'the glories of my career'. Things like the role of film for 'a social purpose'; the NCB, the importance of the 'old timer' (I certainly will never forget the many I knew and from whom I learned - and they had been in film when sound came in), the 'national cinema' if I may call it thus as opposed to the mid-Atlantic pudding, films place in popular culture, filmic influences from abroad and vice versa, technological developments and so on. This is of course very much up to you; what it is you want oz need, and what questions you will ask which themselves, I am sure, will lead onto other things.