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Archive film captures modernity of steel windows

With a whiff of James Bond about it, ‘Steel Windows’, a fascinating seven-minute promotional film made in 1970 by the Steel Window Association, has been digitised by the BFI and is now available to view on the BFI Player website.

A striking promo for steel window construction, ‘Steel Windows’ is more futuristic short than industrial process film and is described as “strangely absorbing and refreshingly abstract…an enticing vision of British modernity in concrete, glass and steel”. Produced by the aptly-named New Decade films, “shimmering steelscapes are cut between close ups of machinery and set to a cool, otherworldly, soundtrack from the cutting edge of modernism - with no dull commentary to spoil the vibe”.

Held in the BFI National Archive, the Steel Window Association film has been made available as part of a preservation and digitisation programme to unlock 10,000 titles selected from the BFI National Archive, regional and national archives and rights holders from across the UK. Unlocking film heritage is a central priority of the BFI Film Forever strategic plan which will ensure the UK’s screen heritage is safeguarded for future generations.

The durability and timelessness of steel windows means that vast numbers of windows from the 1970s, and much earlier, are still in use today in both homes and commercial buildings. As the film shows, steel windows provide rhythm and proportion while the slender glazing bars that only steel can offer allow narrow sightlines that ensure good visibility and excellent light transmission.