The Private Life of the Gannets

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The Private Life of the Gannets
Directed by Julian Huxley
Produced by Alexander Korda
Written by Ronald Lockley
Starring A. L. Alexander
Music by Muir Mathieson
Cinematography Osmond Borradaile
John Grierson
Release date
  • 1934 (1934)
Running time
10 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Private Life of the Gannets is a 1934 British short documentary film, directed by Julian Huxley, about a colony of Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) on the small rocky island of Grassholm, off the coast of Wales. It received a special mention at the 3rd Venice International Film Festival in 1935 and won the Best Short Subject (One-Reel) at the 10th Academy Awards in 1938.[1] The title was chosen by producer Alexander Korda as a reference to The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933),[2] his breakthrough film of the previous year.

The "truly landmark film," provides, according to WildFilmHistory, "an absorbing and atmospheric account," by combining, "close-up, slow motion and aerial shots." This, "groundbreaking footage," "Shot with the support of the Royal Navy," "reveals the incredible private lives of these birds as they squabble over territory, perform spectacular dives and regurgitate fish for their young." The production was headed by "renowned biologist Julian Huxley," who enlisted, "some of the top figures in the British scientific and cinematic world," for what, "is classed by many as the world's first natural history documentary, its thorough and academic approach a stark contrast to the expedition format of its predecessors." "A comprehensive insight into a fascinating creature," it, "was the first wildlife film to receive an Academy Award."[2]


  1. ^ "The 10th Academy Awards (1938) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-09. 
  2. ^ a b "WildFilmHistory: The Private Life of the Gannets". WildFilmHistory. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 

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