Early Film of the Battle of the Somme Tops the UK's Most Watched Cinema Charts

By Gary Cutlack on at

In June of 1916 British war bosses gave approval for two cameramen to film scenes at the very tip of the Western Front, with the resulting war footage from the Somme being used to make a film watched by more than half of the population.

In late 2016 around 20 million people visited cinemas to see the horrors brought home in silent movie The Battle of the Somme, making it  one of the most watched films in UK history. Here, because we have it quite easy today, is the entire film, restored and featuring music that was added later, to watch while eating crisps and reading notifications about birthdays:

And it was one of the first examples of cinematic misdirection, too. Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell are thought to have faked one of the key scenes in the film, with footage of men going over the top and appearing to get gunned down by enemy soldiers believed to have been filmed at a training facility and inserted by an editor to jazz things up a little. So much for films being the truth.

A freshly restored version of The Battle of the Somme is touring the UK right now, with a series of performances backed by live orchestras bringing the terror to a new generation. [BBC]


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