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The Battle of the Somme is a 1916 British documentary and propaganda film, shot by two official cinematographers, Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. The film depicts the British Army in the preliminary and early days of the battle of the Somme(1 July – 18 November 1916). The film had its première in London on 10 August 1916 and was released generally on 21 August. The film depicts trench warfare, showing marching infantry, artillery firing on German positions, British troops waiting to attack on 1 July, treatment of wounded British and German soldiers, British and German dead and captured German equipment and positions. A scene where British troops crouch in a ditch then "go over the top" was staged for the camera behind the lines.

The film was a great success, was watched by  20 million British people in the first six weeks of exhibition and the film was distributed in eighteen more countries. A second film covering a later phase of the battle, was released in 1917 as The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks. In 1920 the film was preserved in the film archive of the Imperial War Museum and was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register. In 2005 the film was digitally restored and in 2008 was released on DVD. The Battle of the Somme is an early example of film propaganda, an historical record of the battle and a popular s

ource of footage illustrating the First World War.[1][2]


The Battle of the Somme
330px-The Battle of the Somme film image1

A staged scene of British troops advancing

Produced by W. F. Jury
Music by J Morton Hutcheson (original 1916 medley)
Cinematography G. H. Malins

J. B. McDowell

Edited by Charles Urban

G. H. Malins

Distributed by British Topical Committee for War Films
Release date(s) *21 August 1916
Running time 77 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language Silent film

English intertitles

Footnotes Edit

  1. Jump up^ Fraser, Robertshaw & Roberts 2009, p. xv.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b Smither 2004, p. 1.

References Edit

Books Edit

    • Cave, N. (1994). Beaumont Hamel. Barnsley: Leo Cooper. ISBN 0-85052-398-2.
    • Duffy, C (2006). Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme 1916 (Phoenix 2007 ed.). London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson. ISBN 978-0-7538-2202-9.
    • Feilding, R. (1929). War Letters to a Wife: France and Flanders, 1915–1919. London: Medici.OCLC 752947224.
    • Malins, G. H. (1920). How I filmed the War : a Record of the Extraordinary Experiences of the Man Who Filmed the Great Somme Battles, etc. London: Herbert Jenkins. OCLC 246683398. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
    • Philpott, W. (2009). Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme and the Making of the Twentieth Century (1st ed.). London: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-1-4087-0108-9.
    • Prior, R.; Wilson, T. (2005). The Somme. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10694-7.
    • Reeves, N (1986). Official British Film Propaganda During the First World War. London: Croom Helm. ISBN 0-70994-225-7.
    • 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.
    • Sheffield, G (2003). The Somme. London: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-36649-8.
    • Smither, R. B. N. (2008). The Battle of the Somme (DVD viewing guide) (2nd (rev) ed.). London: Imperial War Museum. ISBN 0-90162-794-1. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
    • UNESCO (2012). Memory of the World: The Battle of the Somme. UNESCO. ISBN 978-92-3-104237-9. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  1. Newspapers
    • "Real War Pictures". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.: 1848–1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 14 October 1916. ISSN 1833-9700. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
    • "The Battle of the Somme (advertisement)". The Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand). 12 October 1916.OCLC 320805360. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
    • "The Battle of the Somme: The big push in pictures". The Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand). 16 October 1916. OCLC 320805360. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
    • "War's Realities on the Cinema". The Times (London). 22 August 1916. ISSN 0140-0460.
    • Geoff Brown (25 October 2006). "The Battle of the Somme". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  1. Journal articles
    • Badsey, S. (1983). "Battle of the Somme: British war-propaganda". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (Routledge) 3 (2). doi:10.1080/01439688300260081. ISSN 0143-9685. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
    • Haggith, Toby (2002). "Reconstructing the Musical Arrangement for "The Battle of the Somme"". Film History14 (1). ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 3815576.
    • McWilliams, D. (April 2009). "The Battle of the Somme (DVD review)". In Dimitriu C. Journal of Film Preservation (International Federation of Film Archives) (79/80). ISSN 1609-2694. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
    • 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): 467.doi:10.1177/002200948301800306. ISSN 1461-7250. JSTOR 260547.
    • Reeves, N. (1997). "Cinema, spectatorship and propaganda: 'Battle of the Somme' (1916) and its contemporary audience". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 17 (1). ISSN 1465-3451.
    • Smither, R. B. N. (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). ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 3815439.
  1. Websites
    • http://www.focalint.org/ (2007). "Focal Award Nominations 2007". ISSN 1359-8708. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
    • Smither, R. B. N. (2004). "Memory of the World Register: The Battle of the Somme (nomination form)".UNESCO. UNESCO. Retrieved 6 October 2013.

Further reading Edit

    • McKernan, L. (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. doi:10.2979/fil.2002.14.3-4.369.ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 3815438.
    • Smither, R. (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). ISSN 0143-9685.
    • Tookey, C.; Walsh, D. (20 October 2006). "The Film Programme: The Battle of the Somme". BBC. Retrieved 6 October 2013.

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