The Battle of the Somme (film)

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The Battle of the Somme

A staged[wrang wird or uiss o Scots] advance filmit afore the battle.
Producit by William F. Jury
Muisic by J. Morton Hutcheson (oreeginal 1916 medley)
Laura Rossi (2006)
Cinematography Geoffrey H. Malins
John B. McDowell
Editin by Charles Urban
Distributit by British Topical Committee for War Films
Lowse date(s) 21 August 1916
November 2008 (DVD, digitally restored)
Runnin time 62 meen. (1916)
74 meen. (2006)
Kintra Unitit Kinrick
Leid Seelent film
Inglis interteetles

The Battle of the Somme (Scots: The Battle o the Somme) is a 1916 Breetish documentar an propaganda film. Shot by twa offeecial cinematographers, Geoffrey Malins an John McDowell, the film depicts the Breetish Airmy's preparations for, an the early stages o, the battle o the Somme. Premiered in Lunnon on 10 August 1916 an lowsed generally on 21 August, whiles the battle continued in Fraunce, the film gied a gey graphic depiction o trench warfare, shawin deid an woundit Breetish an German sodgers. The film wis a massive success, sellin some twanty million tickets in its first six weeks o lowse in Breetain an gaein on tae be distributit in auchteen ither kintras. A seicont film, kiverin a later phase o the battle, wis lowsed in 1917 as The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks.

Preservit in the film archive o the Imperial War Museum syne 1920, the film wis inscreived on UNESCO's Memory o the Warld Register in 2005. The film haes syne been digitally restored an lowsed on DVD in 2008. The Battle of the Somme bides signeeficant the day as a early ensaumple o film propaganda technique, as a historical record o the battle, an as a frequent springheid o fitage illustratin the First Warld War.[1][2]

Content[eedit | eedit soorce]

The Battle of the Somme is a black an white seelent film dividen intae five pairts, wi individual sequences dividen bi interteetles summarising thair contents. The first pairt shaws the preparations for battle ahint the Breetish frontline; sequences include sodgers mairchin towards the front, French peasants continuin thair ferm wirk in rear auries, the stockpilin o munitions, General Beauvoir De Lisle addressin the 29t Diveesion, an some o the preparatory artillery bombardment. The seicont pairt depicts further preparations, sodgers muivin intae the frontline trenches, the intensification o the artillery barrage, an the detonation o the Hawthorn Ridge Mine. Pairt Three stairts wi the launch o the assault on 1st Julie 1916, an shaws the recovery o Breetish woundit an German preesoners. The fowert pairt shaws mair scenes o Breetish an German woundit, the clearin o the battlefield, an some o the eftercome. The final pairt shaws further scenes o pheesical devastation, includin the ruins o the veelage o Mametz, Breetish sodgers at rest, an preparations for the neist stage o the advance.[3]

Production[eedit | eedit soorce]

The explosion o the Hawthorn Ridge mine, photographed bi Ernest Brooks. Malins filmit the explosion frae a gey alike vantage pynt.

The majority o The Battle of the Somme is actuality fitage filmit atween 26 Juin an 8 Julie 1916, wi cutty staged sequences filmit at a later date in Julie. The twa cinematographers, Malins an McDowell, operatit in unalike pairts o the Breetish Airmy's front; Malins filmin in the vicinity o Beaumont Hamel, an McDowell wirkin further sooth in the vicinity o Fricourt an Mametz.[3] Afore the battle, Malins operatit at the northrenmaist end o the Breetish Somme sector, filmin sodgers on the mairch an hivy artillery wast o Gommecourt. For the first day o the battle, Malins wis formally attached tae the Breetish 29t Diveesion. Filmin in a aurie kent as 'White Ceety', Malins wis able tae film sodgers o 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers waitin tae advance fae a sunken lane in no man's laund, afore retourin tae film the explosion o the Hawthorn Ridge mine. Bidin in the aurie on 1 Julie, the follaein day Malins filmit activity at La Boisselle, afore leavin the front for Lunnon on aboot 9 Julie.[3] Retourin tae Fraunce, Malins filmit staged sequences o shellfire an o sodgers advancin frae thair trenches at a Breetish Third Airmy mortar schuil naur St Pol atween 12–19 Julie.[3]

McDowell reached the Somme front later nor Malins, an began filmin on 28 or 29 Juin. He filmit pre-battle activities east o Albert, an kivered the appenin day o the battle frae the vicinity o Carnoy an 'Minden Post'. McDowell mey hae been affiliatit wi the 7t Diveesion. The success o Breetish forces in this aurie enabled McDowell tae film captured German trenches naur Fricourt an Mametz.[3]

Malins an McDowell didna set oot tae mak a featur film, but ance the volume an quality o thair fitage haed been seen in Lunnon, the British Topical Committee for War Films decidit tae compile a featur-length film. William Jury producit the wirk an it wis editit bi Malins an Charles Urban.

Lowse[eedit | eedit soorce]

The feenisht film spanned five reels an lastit 62 meenits an 50 seiconts. Its first screenin teuk place tae a invitit audience at the Scala Theatre on 10 August 1916, whiles the battle still raged. On 21 August the film began shawin simultaneously in 34 Lunnon cinemas, appenin in provincial ceeties the follaein week. The Ryal Faimlie received a private screenin at Windsor Castle in September. The film wis eventually shawn in 18 kintras.

Reception an eftercast[eedit | eedit soorce]

The teetle o this sequence: British Tommies rescuin a comrade unner shell fire. (This man dee'd 30 meenits efter reachin the trenches.)

Breetish sodgers at rest in Fraunce saw the film forby: thare it providit new recruits wi some idea o whit thay micht soon face. The sodgers' main complaint wis the failur o the film tae capture the soond o battle. Houaniver, for a seelent film, the teetles coud be remarkably forthricht, descreivin eimages o injury an daith.

Breetish authorities shawed the film tae the public as a morale-upbigger an in general it met wi a favourable reception. The Times reportit on 22 August 1916 that "Crowded audiences...were interested and thrilled to have the realities of war brought so vividly before them, and if women had sometimes to shut their eyes to escape for a moment from the tragedy of the toll of battle which the film presents, opinion seems to be general that it was wise that the people at home should have this glimpse of what our soldiers are doing and daring and suffering in Picardy".[4]

By contrast ithers considert it immoral tae braidcast scenes o violence, the Dean o Durham protestin "against an entertainment which wounds the heart and violates the very sanctity of bereavement". Ithers complained that sic a serious film shared the cinema programme wi comedy films.[5] The Breetish public respondit tae the film massively, purchasin a estimatit 20 million tickets in twa months. On this basis, The Battle of the Somme bides ane o the maist successfu Breetish films ever made.

Houaniver, historians believe that a lot o the available fitage wis censored frae the feenal version shawn tae the public, as the War Office wantit the film tae conteen fitage that woud support the war effort an raise morale, and it daed gey successfully.

The film wis shawn in New Zealand in October 1916. On 12 October Wellington's Evening Post ran a advertisement for the film, descrievin it as 'the extraordinary films of "the big push"' an a 'awe-inspiring, glorious presentation of what our heroes are accomplishing today'.[6] In a review published on 16 October, the paper concluded that 'these pictures of the Battle of the Somme are a real and valuable contribution to the nation's knowledge and a powerful spur to national effort'.[7]

Preservation, restoration an relowses[eedit | eedit soorce]

In 1920 the film's oreeginal nitrate negative wis passed tae the Imperial War Museum for preservation. A nitrate protection archive master wis made in 1921, an a acetate safety maister in 1931. The nitrate maisters war destroyed in the 1970s efter the onset o irreversible nitrate decomposition.[8]

The film wis made available[wrang wird or uiss o Scots] on VHS in 1987, becomin the first teetle frae the museum's film archive tae be lowsed on video.[8]

In 2005 The Battle of the Somme wis inscreived on UNESCO's Memory o the Warld Register for the preservation o global documentar heirship. The film wis descreived b UNESCO as a 'compelling documentary record of one of the key battles of the First World War [and] the first feature-length documentary film record of combat produced anywhere in the world' an as haein 'played a major part in establishing the methodology of documentary and propaganda film'.[9]

On 22 October 2006, follaein a restoration project bi the Imperial War Museum an Dragon Digital Intermediate,[10] a digitally restored version o The Battle of the Somme wis screened at the Queen Elizabeth Haw in Lunnon. The film wis accompanee'd bi the Philharmonia Orchestra, conductit bi Nic Raine, performin a oreeginal orchestral score bi composer Laura Rossi.[11] The restoration wis later nominatit for a Archive Restoration or Preservation Project award bi FOCAL, the Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries.[12][13] In November 2008 the restored film wis lowsed on DVD tae merk the 90t anniversary o the Armistice in 1918. As soondtracks tae the film, the DVD includit Rossi's score, a accompanyin 1916 muisical medley, an a commentar bi Roger Smither, film archivist at the Imperial War Museum. The DVD includit interviews wi Smither an Rossi, an wi Toby Haggith (film archivist) an Stephen Horne (seelent film muisicker) on the reconstruction o the contemporar medley. Includit an aw war film fragments an amissin scenes.[14]

See an aa[eedit | eedit soorce]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. Fraser, Alastair; Robertshaw, Andrew; Roberts, Steve (2009). Ghosts on the Somme: Filming the Battle, June–July 1916. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 1-84415-836-5. 
  2. Smither, Roger et al (2008) Imperial War Museum: The Battle of the Somme - DVD Booklet
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "The Battle of the Somme: Viewing Guide". The Battle of the Somme DVD. Imperial War Museum. 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  4. 'War's Realities on the Cinema', The Times, Lunnon, 22 August 1916, p. 3
  5. Badsey, Stephen (1983). "Battle of the Somme: British war-propaganda". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (in Inglis) (Routledge) 3 (2): 110. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  6. "The Battle of the Somme (advertisement)". The Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand). 12 October 1916. p. 2. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  7. "The Battle of the Somme: The big push in pictures". The Evening Post (in Inglis) (Wellington, New Zealand). 16 October 1916. p. 3. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Smither, Roger B. N. "Memory of the World Register: The Battle of the Somme (nomination form)". unesco.org. UNESCO. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  9. UNESCO (1995-2011). "Memory of the World: The Battle of the Somme". unesco.org. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  10. Dragon Digital Intermediate (2010). "Portfolio - a selection of our work". Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  11. Geoff Brown (25 October 2006). "The Battle of the Somme". The Times (Nexis UK). p. 17 (Times2). Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  12. Dragon Digital Intermediate (22 April 2008). "Battle of the Somme Award Shortlisting for Dragon DI". Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  13. FOCAL International (2007). "Focal Award Nominations 2007". Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  14. McWilliams, Donald (April 2009). "The Battle of the Somme (DVD review)". In Dimitriu, Christian. Journal of Film Preservation (International Federation of Film Archives) (79/80): 130–133. ISSN 1609-2694. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 

Further readin[eedit | eedit soorce]

  • "The Battle of the Somme: Film Biographies". The Battle of the Somme DVD. Imperial War Museum. 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  • "The Battle of the Somme: Viewing Guide". The Battle of the Somme DVD. Imperial War Museum. 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  • Haggith, Toby (2002). "Reconstructing the Musical Arrangement for 'The Battle of the Somme'". Film History 14 (1): 11–24. JSTOR 3815576. 
  • Reeves, Nicholas (July 1983). "Film Propaganda and Its Audience: The Example of Britain's Official Films during the First World War". Journal of Contemporary History 18 (3): 463–494. JSTOR 260547. 
  • Smither, Roger (2002). "'Watch the Picture Carefully, and See If You Can Identify Anyone': Recognition in Factual Film of the First World War Period". Film History 14 (3/4): 390–404. JSTOR 3815439. 
  • McKernan, Luke (2002). "Propaganda, Patriotism and Profit: Charles Urban and British Official War Films in America during the First World War". Film History 14 (3/4): 369–389. JSTOR 3815438. 
  • Smither, Roger (1993). ""A Wonderful Idea of the Fighting": The question of fakes in 'The Battle of the Somme'". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 13 (2): 149–168. 
  • Tookey, Chris and Walsh, David (20 October 2006) The Film Programme RealPlayer Audio interview frae 14:38. BBC Radio 4. Accessed 27 October 2010.

Fremmit airtins[eedit | eedit soorce]