years ago, the war to end all
wars was over and Britain was trying
to get back to normality after the
nightmare years for her soldiers fighting
in the trenches in appalling conditions The Battle Of The Somme, a pioneering
battlefield documentary, was seen by
huge audiences in the UK when it was
released in August 1916, while the battle
was still being fought... HAILED AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE the reality of the Western Front for
the first time and to share the experiences of the soldiers who were fighting
there by the cinema audiences of the time, The Battle Of The Somme is
a unique pictorial record and the origin of some of the most widely
used and iconic moving images of the First World War. These are the official
pictures of the British Army in France.
This remarkable film sparked off a debate that continues to this day
about the on-screen depiction of combat, and is digitally restored by
the Imperial War Museum's Film and Video Archive and Dragon Digital Intermediate
to an amazing improvement on previously released video versions.
The Battle Of The Somme begins with the preparations before Fricourt-Mametz
with platoons of The Buffs, Bedfords, Suffolks and a battalion of Royal Welsh
Fusiliers. This film is a fascinating document that will appeal to anyone with
an interest in history or cinema history. Soldiers from all over Britain
including regiments such as the Royal Engineers, Lancashire Fusiliers and Seaforth
Highlanders are the heroes of the hour.
Despite the horror of the conflict, The Battle Of The Somme shows a very
human side to the war. The soldiers who are waiting for their orders to advance
occasionally clown around for the camera and the acts of decency shown towards
German prisoners of war are heart-warming as are the images of wounded
on both sides being helped by their fellow soldiers (and sometimes the very
people they were fighting). Lines of German prisoners are being escorted to
England and appear bemused rather than afraid.
The Artillery Horses are meticulously cared for and a French fox is rescued
to become the mascot of the Royal Field Artillery and in the true spirit
of the French countryfolk, farm workers continue to toil the land just outside
the firing line.
Tragedy is all too real and the camera reveals the dead and wounded men and
horses one poignant scene shows the Royal Field Artillery moving up during
battle over ground where the Gordons' and Devons' dead are lying "after a glorious
and successful charge on the ridge near Mametz". A later scene shows the Manchesters'
pet dog, who fell with his master charging Danzig Alley.
Howitzers shell the German first line trenches of Mametz and there are long,
panning shots that dwell on the shell-shattered remains of the village.
The Battle Of The Somme is very emotional especially if you remember
that the First World War, fought under desperate conditions in the trenches,
was known as "The War to End All Wars" and that boys as young as fourteen were
running away to join up. The film is a magnificent tribute and a memorial to
those who lost or risked their lives for their country. If you really don't
know what Poppy Day is all about, it starts here.
1916 Film Credits Cameramen: Geoffrey H Malins and J B McDowell | Editors:
Charles Urban and Geoffrey H Malins | Producer: William F Jury. The Battle Of
The Somme was restored under the supervision of David Walsh of the Imperial
War Museum and commentary is by Roger Smither (Keeper, Film and Photograph Archives,
Imperial War Museum).
Network Distributing, Strike Force Entertainment
and the Imperial War Museum are delighted to announce the release of this definitive,
digitally-restored version of the The Battle of the Somme, the first
British documentary to be ascribed UNESCO status in the Memory of the World
register. It will be available to buy on DVD on 3 November, 2008 ninety years
after the end of the Great War.
The Battle Of The Somme (E) | RRP: £19.99 | Total Running Time: 74 minutes
approx | Screen Ratio: 1.33:1/Colour.
* Interview with Roger Smither | Interview with Laura Rossi | Interview with
Stephen Horne and Dr Toby Haggith | Missing scenes and fragments
* Official 36-page booklet with contributions from the Imperial War Museum Archive
* A full orchestral score by Laura Rossi, commissioned by the Imperial War Museum
in 2005 and performed for the recording as it was for the premiere performance
at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on 22 October, 2006 by The Philharmonia
Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine
* A recreation of the medley of light classic, folk tunes, popular songs and
military music recommended as an accompaniment for the film in 1916 by cinema
musician J Morton Hutcheson in The Bioscope, a contemporary trade journal
the medley, the subject of several years of research by Dr Toby Haggith of the
Imperial War Museum and Stephen Horne, is performed for the DVD by a small ensemble
led by the latter
* Interviews with the composer Laura Rossi, Stephen Horne and the curators who
worked on the project | Missing footage
THE IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM
The national museum of the experiences of people who have lived, fought and
died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since 1914, The Imperial
War Museum is the museum of everyone's story the history of modern war
and people's experience of war and wartime life in Britain and the Commonwealth.
It is an educational and historical institution responsible for archives, collections
and sites of outstanding national importance.
The Museum's five branches include: Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London
SE1 6HZ, which houses the award-winning Holocaust exhibition; the Second World
War cruiser HMS Belfast; the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, housed
in Churchill's secret headquarters below Whitehall; Imperial War Museum Duxford,
a world renowned aviation and heritage complex; and Imperial War Museum North,
one of the most talked about Museums in the UK.
To mark the ninetieth anniversary of the end of the First World War, a series
of exhibitions and events to commemorate the experiences of those who lived,
fought and died in the 'war to end all wars' will take place across each of
the Museum's five branches. For further information about events and activities
taking place at Imperial War Museum branches visit iwm.org.uk/90.
* The Battle Of The Somme will also be a UK Premiere on Military History
on Tuesday 11 November, at 21:00pm Simulcast with The History Channel HD.
* The CD of the music composed by Laura Rossi is released by Virtuosa Records
on 3 November 2008. For further information visit virtuosarecords.co.uk.
"The Battle Of The Somme is very emotional… the film is a magnificent
tribute and memorial to those who lost or risked their lives for their country.
If you really don't know what Poppy Day is all about, it starts here"
Maggie Woods, MotorBar