From the Sea to the Land Beyond

From The Sea to the Land Beyond: Britain's Coast on Film is a documentary feature film directed by Penny Woolcock, with an original soundtrack by British indie-rock band British Sea Power. The project was originally produced by Crossover and Sheffield Doc/Fest[1] as part of The Space project from the BBC and the Arts Council England. The film was edited by Alex Fry.[2]

From The Sea to the Land Beyond: Britain's Coast on Film
Directed byPenny Woolcock
Produced by
Music byBritish Sea Power
Release date
  • 13 June 2012 (2012-06-13) (United Kingdom)
CountryUnited Kingdom

The world premiere was at the Crucible Theatre at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2012, with British Sea Power playing the soundtrack live. It has since been performed at the BFI Southbank,[3] Latitude Festival, Sundance London, at Doc/Fest 2013, and under the hull of the Cutty Sark.[4] The film with recorded soundtrack was shown on BBC Four's Storyville on 18 November 2012,[5] and released on DVD on 21 January 2013. The soundtrack album was released on 2 December 2013.


The film explores a century of life on Britain's coastline, using a mixture of black and white and colour footage from the BFI National Archive stretching back to the earliest days of movie making. It explores social history, life in wartime and peacetime, women's history and the rise and fall of fishing and shipbuilding.

The earliest footage is taken from Blackpool at the start of the 20th century. There's a carnival procession with floral floats and a placard about the suffragettes. A swimming race takes place with everyone dressed in evening wear complete with top hats, watched by boats of spectators, also in fine attire. Women are shown repairing nets and gutting, salting and packing herring. They also dangle off the sides of cliffs to collect eggs.[6]

The film includes early footage from the Mitchell and Kenyon film company; early Peter Greenaway; and footage from Marion Grierson, the sister of British 'docfather' John Grierson.[7] Wartime footage shows RMS Mauretania, troops practising trench manoeuvres, synchronised marching battalions and women priming and loading bombs. In more peaceful times, families enjoy the simple pleasures of the seaside, with palmistry and phrenology available on the beach. Up-to-date footage of the British at play includes a wind and rain-lashed Blackpool with holidaymakers battling the elements. RNLI lifeboat and helicopter rescues are shown, highlighting the bravery of those involved. The life of the docks is explored, from bustling workplaces to the redevelopment of the London Docklands.[6]

Before its debut Woolcock said it was the only film she'd made that was "unstressful to watch" and called it "a beautiful and poetic experience".[8] From the Sea to the Land Beyond was produced by Mark Atkin for Crossover and Heather Croall for Doc/Fest.[5]

Doc/Fest’s archive and music offering last year From The Sea To The Land Beyond was addictive, and performed well for Storyville on BBC Four.

Nick Fraser, Series Editor, Storyville, [9]
From the Sea to the Land Beyond
Studio album by
Released2 December 2013 (2013-12-02)
LabelRough Trade Records
British Sea Power chronology
Machineries of Joy
From the Sea to the Land Beyond
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Drowned in Sound9/10[12]
Line of Best Fit8.5/10[13]


The soundtrack was released as a studio album titled From the Sea to the Land Beyond under Rough Trade Records on 2 December 2013. British Sea Power were commissioned to write and perform the soundtrack because of their love of nature and wildlife. The soundtrack was composed at Lympne Castle in Kent and recorded at Brighton Electric studios.

As the film begins, plaintive keyboard chords are joined by trumpet, cello and a crescendo of drums and cymbals. The music ebbs and flows with the elements depicted in the film.[8]

The music is made up of reworked moments from the band's back catalogue, for example elements of the tracks "Carrion", "No Lucifer" and "The Great Skua", along with specially written material.[2][6]

The title of the film and the soundtrack is drawn from the song "The Land Beyond" from the album Open Season.

Track listing

1."From the Sea to the Land Beyond"5:00
2."Remarkable Diving Feat"4:18
3."Strange Sports"3:15
4."Heroines of the Cliff"4:52
5."The Guillemot Girls"3:05
6."Suffragette Riots"3:57
8."Melancholy of the Boot"4:22
9."Be You Mighty Sparrow"2:13
10."Berth 24"4:04
11."Red Rock Riviera"6:53
13."Perspectives of Stinky Turner"4:54
14."Bonjour Copains"2:58
15."The Wild Highlands"3:10
16."Docklands Renewed"5:41
17."The Islanders"3:07


The film was launched with an interactive website,, allowing users to create a personalised video postcard. The website won the FOCAL International Award for Best Use of Footage on Digital or non-Television Platforms.[14]


  1. Sarah Cooper, Sheffield Doc/Fest to produce From The Sea To The Land Beyond,, 23 April 2012, retrieved 17 December 2013
  2. Jack Seale, That Week On TV: From the Sea to the Land Beyond, BBC4; Getting On, BBC4, Radio Times, 24 November 2012, retrieved 20 December 2013
  3. Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes and Elliot Smith, From the Sea to the Land Beyond - video interview,, 15 June 2012, retrieved 17 December 2013
  4. James Hall, British Sea Power, Cutty Sark, review, The Telegraph, 6 December 2013, retrieved 17 December 2013
  5. From the Sea to the Land Beyond, retrieved 17 December 2013
  6. Luke Turner, Saving Flags: British Sea Power Soundtrack The BFI Archive,, 18 June 2012, retrieved 17 December 2013
  7. Daniel Green, Sundance London 2013: From the Sea to the Land Beyond,, January 2013, retrieved 20 December 2013
  8. Pete Martin, British Sea Power’',, July 2013
  9. Graham Walker, VIDEO: Cocker and Hawley launch Sheffield Doc Fest, The Star, 13 June 2013
  10. "Album Review". Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  11. Deming, Mark. "Album Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  12. Shipman, Chris (2 December 2013). "Album Review". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  13. Spens, Christina (29 November 2013). "Album Review". Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  14. Chris Patmore, Packed schedule for Sheffield Doc/Fest announced,, 10 May 2013
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