Posted - 24-04-2017

Collections / Digitisation / Research

A Welsh cinematic journey via the Library’s online newspapers

Whilst reading the current issue of Empire magazine, I came across an article on how “Citizen Kane” lost out to “How Green Was My Valley” for the Best Picture award in the 1942 Oscars. The article got me thinking about other Welsh films or films set in Wales, and I decided to see if I could find some more interesting articles in the Library’s collection of online newspapers. (*To access these resources from outside the Library building you will have to use your reader’s ticket. If you haven’t got a reader’s ticket you can register very easily here).

I began by searching for a report of the 1942 Oscars Ceremony, and found this in the Telegraph Historical Archive:


(The Telegraph Historical Archive, 1855-2000)



As you can see, this is a far cry from the awards hysteria we see today. However, to be fair, they did have more pressing matters to report about at the time!


Staying with the academy awards, my next search was for “Hedd Wyn”, the first ever Welsh language film to be nominated. It was interesting to find in this article in The Guardian that the Academy’s board was unaware of the existence of the Welsh language, and that the film was only selected after a Welsh-English dictionary was sent to them as proof!

(ProQuest Historical Newspapers (Guardian & The Observer))



Ask anyone who was a teenager growing up in Wales during the late 90s to name a Welsh film, and I guarantee you they’ll all have the same answer: Twin Town.  This tale of the Lewis twins causing havoc across Swansea remains a firm favourite, but I discovered there was an outcry in some quarters upon its release. To my surprise, I read in this article in the Sunday Times that some appealed for the film to be banned due to its “amoral” nature.

(The Sunday Times Digital Archive 1822-2006)



“Twin Town” was released at the height of Cool Cymru. Sticking with that theme, Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals has ventured into film making in the last few years. His last film was “American Interior”, which traced the story of a 22-year-old farmhand from Snowdonia who travelled to America in 1792 in search of a fabled Welsh-speaking Native American tribe called the Madogwys. It’s a fascinating story, and it was fantastic to find out that Gruff had used the National Library’s archives when researching for the film.




Of course, I couldn’t write this blog without giving a mention to the film that was recently filmed at the Library!




As you can see, these online newspapers provide users with a wealth of information at their fingertips. Also, if this blog has given you an urge to watch any of these great Welsh films, remember that they’re available to view from the National Screen and Sound Archive, and are also available to buy from the Library shop.


Paul Jackson

Legal Deposit, Electronic and Acquisitions Librarian

This post is also available in: Welsh

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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