Battle of the Somme Film, 1916

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In October 1916, the Blantyre Picture House, like many cinemas all over Britain were showing a new film. “The Battle of the Somme”. At the height of war, this was a chance for Blantyre people to see what was happening at the front.

At E.H Bostocks, Picture House on Glasgow Road during the last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of October 1916, the film was broadcast 3 times a day. However, this film fell far short of the reality of war. It was a British documentary and propaganda war film, shot by two official cinematographers, Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. A scene during which British troops crouch in a ditch then “go over the top”, like others in the film was staged for the camera behind the lines. The film was a great success, watched by about 20 million people in Britain in the first six weeks of exhibition and distributed in eighteen other countries.

The popularity of the film was unprecedented and cinemas played the film for longer runs than usual, often to packed houses, while some arranged additional screenings to meet demand

The film comprises five reels and is 77 minutes long and is available here for viewing.

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

Tom McGuigan I wonder how much of the horror and carnage they were allowed to show. 25,000 died on the first day.
Margaret Duncan It’s heartbreaking seeing all the soldiers smiling for the camera – I wonder how many of them didn’t come home – the reality of war had still to come
Anthony Smith I remember seeing a scene,which may have come from this film,of a group of soldiers, ‘ going over the top ‘and one of them slipping and then looking like he was supposed to be dead.
John Dunsmore Defo that Anthony , mind seeing it. Too

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