Song of Ceylon

United Kingdom, 1935

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A poetic interpretation of the life and customs of the people of Ceylon, showing the contrast between the culture of the Singalese of the island, and the western economic outlook. One of the most famous of the GPO Film Unit’s productions, this film helped to build the reputation of the British documentary film movement. ‘The Song of Ceylon’ is in four sections, 1. The Buddha, 2. The Virgin island, 3. The Voice of commerce, 4. The Apparel of God. Sponsored by the Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board. Music by Walter Leigh. Photographed by Basil Wright.

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production company

GPO Film Unit

John Grierson


Basil Wright



Production places
United Kingdom
Production dates

Collection metadata

ACMI Identifier




Subject categories

Advertising, Film, Journalism, Mass Media & TV → Propaganda

Agriculture, Business, Commerce & Industry → Industries - Sri Lanka

Agriculture, Business, Commerce & Industry → Sri Lanka - Commerce

Agriculture, Business, Commerce & Industry → Tea

Anthropology, Ethnology, Exploration & Travel → Sri Lanka

Anthropology, Ethnology, Exploration & Travel → Sri Lanka - Social life and customs


Documentary → Documentary films - Great Britain

Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion & Sociology → Buddhism

Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion & Sociology → Ethnology

Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion & Sociology → Propaganda

History → History

History → Propaganda

Places → Sri Lanka

Short films

Short films → Short films - Great Britain




Black and White


VHS; Access Print (Section 1)

16mm film; Access Print (Section 1)

16mm film; Preservation Print (Section 5)

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