Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Great British Films - 13 May 2014

The Great British Film stamps celebrate six key British movies since the Second World War, taking in landmark films, epics and influential movies that evoke the distinctiveness and quality of British film and story-telling across key genres.

A Miniature Sheet of four additional stamps celebrates the rich heritage of the GPO (General Post Office) Film Unit.

Great British Films- set of 6 stamps.  

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1st Class - A Matter of Life and Death, Lawrence of Arabia, and 2001: A Space Odyssey

£1.28 - Chariots of Fire, Secrets & Lies and Bend It Like Beckham
(Details below)
Miniature sheet - 4 films from the GPO Film Unit.

Miniature Sheet

In the 1930s the GPO Film Unit produced what are internationally regarded as key works in the documentary genre.   The unit was established initially to explain postal and telephone services, and heighten the reputation of the Post Office, in an era when it was leading the world in technological innovation.   Its remit grew as it experimented with new ways of communicating with the public, and it created ground-breaking films by experimenting with sound, animation and images, as well as landmark documentaries using an impressive array of film makers. The films were screened throughout the country and had huge popular appeal. It has been said that the public affection for the modern Post Office began with these films.

The immortal Night Mail film is marked with a stamp for the first time, and a stamp for Love on the Wing, a film by director Norman McLaren also marks his centenary in 2014.

The 4 x 1st class stamps in the miniature sheet
Night Mail - Love on the Wing
A Colour Box  - Spare Time

Films featured in the set are:

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) has undergone major reassessment in last 20 years. It is genre defying and is a part fantasy and part romance. Starring David Niven in one of his greatest roles, the film tells the story of an RAF pilot who should have died but is caught between two worlds – the real and a kind of afterlife. Created by Powell and Pressburger, it is technologically very innovative, filmed in both black and white and colour, and was selected as the first Royal Command Film in 1946 attended by the King and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. It regularly appears in the top 20 lists of greatest British films of all time. Danny Boyle used an excerpt from the film in his opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is in most lists of greatest films of all time, by all countries and usually in the top ten. It won seven Academy Awards, four BAFTAs and five Golden Globes. It is regarded as David Lean’s masterpiece and features an impressively powerful performance by the late Peter O’Toole. Sony Pictures marked its 50th anniversary in 2012 with a digitally re-mastered version that has had a theatrical release, again to great reviews. The film has an international following and was selected as the best epic movie ever by the American Film Institute.

American director, Steven Spielberg is on record as saying it inspired him to become a filmmaker. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is the other British film that appears close to the top in the greatest movies lists. Categorised as science fiction it has multiple interpretations and has won generations of fans. It regularly tops lists of the greatest science fiction films of all time and is also the only science fiction film to make the British Film Institute (BF I) poll for ten best movies of all time.   It was selected as the best science fiction movie ever by the American Film Institute. Although American, director Stanley Kubrick was a committed anglophile. He moved to the UK in the early 1960s and then made every film in the UK using British crew and studios.  The innovative and hugely influential visual effects, sets and cinematography of 2001 are the work of British technicians and cameramen at Surrey’s Shepperton Studio, with the script co-written by British author Arthur C Clarke (whose short story was the basis for the film). Most observers will say that the images of future space travel have never been bettered and was achieved without the benefits of computer technology. It is widely regarded as a British film.

Chariots of Fire (1981) was the multiple Oscar and BAFTA winning story of two athletes who competed in the 1924 Olympics. It is regarded as one of the greatest sports films of all time, and highly rated by critics and the BF I, who especially believe this to be a key work of Post War British film.

Secrets & Lies (1996) this Mike Leigh film is very highly regarded and a fine example of social realism which is a key UK genre. It is Leigh’s most commercially successful film and arguably his most seen, and its performances are regarded as among the best in any film in recent years. Secrets & Lies went on to win two BAFTAs and the coveted Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, among many other international awards.

Bend It Like Beckham (2002) although too recent for a fair inclusion in ‘Best of’ lists, Bend it Like Beckham is a well-received British comedy that is immensely popular internationally. It topped the UK box office on release and broke box-office records in India for a foreign film and became the highest grossing Indian themed film at the US box office. In 2010 it became the first Western made film ever to be screened on North Korean TV!   The film made stars of its lead actors Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightly. Gurinder Chadra’s Bend It Like Beckham is also arguably the best known film by any British woman director.

Technical details:
The 60 x 30 mm stamps were designed by Johnson Banks; the sheets of 18/36 are perforated 14½.  The stamps are printed in lithography by International Security Printers with all over phosphor and PVA gum.
The 115 x 89 mm Miniature Sheet was designed by Magpie Studio.  The 41 x 30mm stamps are perforated 14½x 14, and printed in lithography buy Joh Enschede en Zonen, with all over phosphor and PVA gum.
All stamp images © Royal Mail ©2015.

Products issued - available from Royal Mail.

Set of 6 stamps, miniature sheet
Presentation Pack containing set and miniature sheet 
Set of 11 stamp cards
Two First Day Covers

Special first day of issue postmarks will be shown here.   As our office will be closed for holidays when the next Bulletin is issued we will be unable to show more postmarks before the issue date.

FD postmark with text as below.
Postmark showing movie camera. 
Non-pictorial FD postmark.

Two first day postmarks for Great British Films, one showing clapperboard.
Ref FD1413TH
Official Bureau postmark
Ref FD1413PL
Blackheath London SE3 official first day of issue postmark
Ref FD1413NP
Blackheath London SE3 non-pictorial official first day of issue postmark
Ref L13087
Great British Film, Shepperton, Middlesex
Ref L13088
bbfc, British Board of Film Classification, London W1D
Three special postmarks for Great British Flms, sowing reel of film clapperboard and letters and film.
2 special postmarks for Great British Film, featuring Night Mail and Lawrence of Arabia.
Ref L13089 - British Short Film GPO Film Unit London EC2 Ref L13090
Great British Film, Croydon
Ref L13091
Great British Film, Shepperton
Ref M13093 - Great British Film, Lawrence Walk, Birmingham Ref M13094 - GPO Film Unit - Night Mail, New Street Birmingham
Postmark showing roll film and a crown.

Ref S13096
British Short Film - GPO Film Unit,
Postmark featuring railway mail exchange apparatus.

Ref N13095
The Night Mail, Shap Fell, Penrith, Cumbria
No further postmarks have been announced for this stamp issue.

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This page updated 12 May 2014

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