Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen in Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars30
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£36.52+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 13 August 2009
As other reviewers have written, this is a remarkable film. Made during the Battle of Somme, in a way that must have exposed the film crew to considerable personal danger, this is a unique, contemporary `window' on that battle and the period. It is a silent film, with a background score, and divided into sections that follow the progress of the battle. Soldiers are seen marching, performing everyday tasks, digging trenches, firing weapons, taking cover, laughing and dying - the first time this occurred, as the soldiers went `over the top', I was so shocked by its matter of factness that I thought it was acted rather than for real. This film is powerful.

A number of historians are now producing `revisionist' works of the First World War. These argue that the embedded liberal consensus popularised by Black Adder, O What a Lovely War and the war poets is misleading and sentimental. In a way this film supports this view by its recording of normal day to day activities, including battle. It was war and terrible but not continuous beastliness. Indeed there is a great deal of the joys of comradeship and our common humanity is shown by the sequences involving German prisoners, which seem no more staged than any other section.

In the film the soldiers are clearly intrigued by the camera and show an innocence in its presence that gives a glimpse of the world before visual media made us self conscious about appearances and manipulative of the medium. These were not downtrodden serfs caught up in a clash of empires but open natured, good hearted people like you and me - only braver. They look directly at the lens and, although many scenes were presumably carefully set up because of the limitations of film equipment, this has about it the genuineness of a neutral, official record rather than any whiff of propaganda. Interestingly, this is a film about the experience of the ordinary men - very few officers appear `centre stage'.

Certain other things in this film that I found remarkable:
* Although the soldiers were presumably the fittest of their time, their teeth were awful!
* The level of organisation to keep the Front functioning must have been tremendous. There may have been the chaos of battle and inevitable supply problems but the film reveals an underlying orderliness and efficiency that is revelatory.
* The loading, sighting and firing of the howitzers, mortars and railway guns is remarkable footage. So many people to service one gun and and not a set of ear defenders in sight!
* The actual battlefield is quieter than anything in Spielberg or any other war film but the explosions of the artillery shells and mines are incredible and the landscape of northern France has been blasted into something lunar.
* The number of horses is astonishing, as is their everyday use for pulling almost all the equipment or just getting across that landscape where no motor vehicle of the time could travel.
* The casualty stations were efficient, if overworked
* The German prisoners look confused and ordinary without their webbing and other battledress. There seems no ideological rancour between fighting men.
* It appears that everyone in the world smoked all the time!
* The British army was an impressive force not a set of `beggars under sacks' (Owen).
55 comments|65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 February 2009
This is a straight bit of history. So direct. I have never seen anything like it.

The IWM have done a great job of remastering and the new score is brilliant, but the original 1916 cinematography is just incredible. 20 Million people went to see this in Britain when it first came our.

It is very moving, looking into the faces of the troops heading off to battle. They are cheerful and some lark about.

Anyone intersted in WW1 needs to get this. It is an amazing historical document, and only £12.

Highly recommended.
0Comment|52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 August 2009
This film is truly remarkable. In itself it is astonishing, and the remastering and the musical score makes it even better.

Even if one consider that it must have been created and edited for a purpose out of a greater material, the result is a document of how people, equipment and environment really looked. The men are not stereotypes, they are individuals down to the smallest details and expressions.

I think this is a "must" in education, as well as a "must" for anyone interested in the period. It is hard to see the same amount of money better spent here at Amazon.
0Comment|18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 January 2010
I am a French novelist who writes historical novels, specializing in the XXth century. During my research for my next book, I ordered this film. The First World War was essential in shaping the past century. This is without doubt a sobering, moving, and historically important work. It was seen at the time by over 80% of the British adult population. It gave an idea of the atmosphere of the trenches and the courage of the soldiers. Nowadays, we can use "The battle of the Somme" as a means of better understanding the mood of those years. One musn't forget that it was to be a positive, uplifting film. There is a hint of propaganda, of course. But we can now "read between the pictures", thanks to the many historians who have underlined the political, military and psychological aspects of the Great War. May I also just stress here the excellent work done by the Imperial War Museum. For all those interested in the First World War, the French museum l'Historial de la Grande Guerre, in Péronne, is also a must.
0Comment|12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 May 2011
This DVD that has produced from a smartened-up original film shot on nitrate during WW1 I found to be of great interest . The informed commentary , by an expert in the history of the war , plays a critical role towards the understanding and appreciation of what the combatants endured during those times. Images are sharp for the most part , and the elements that were posed are clearly indicated .
Also , there is a lot of footage of artillery pieces in action : serving to graphically demonstrate the sort of fearfulness to which the front line troops of both sides were exposed in the trenches. I did not watch the added extra version with the musical score that was created for this silent film - not because I am not interested in it, but rather , because I found the documentary aspect more suited to the subject .
Bill Axten.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 June 2012
In reviewing this DVD it must be understood that the various film clips which together form the "Battle of the Somme" cannot be seen as an independent or objective account of the Battle of the Somme. The original film which was seen by an estimated 20 million people (or almost half the population of the UK) within 2 months of its release was produced to encourage support for the soldiers in the British Expeditionary Force particularly those involved in the war effort at home. It does not offer a truly accurate account of the struggle in July 1916 which on the first day alone was to cause over fifty thousand British and Empire casualties. Footage in some instances was also reenacted or simulated (watch out for the soldier crossing his legs after being shot leaving the trenches).

So why is it worth watching?

The DVD which has been re-released by the Imperial War Museum offers exceptional footage of the build up to the Battle of the Somme and its engagement. It is beautifully remastered and has the option of 3 audio tracks: the original music score; a more modern and sympathetic score or a narrative explanation of the footage including a sensible and objective critique.

The film sheets (the film is split into a number of short clips in 5 parts) offers fantastic footage including the detonation of the Hawthorne Ridge mine under German defenses and the soldiers of the 1st Lancashire Battalion as they wait in Sunken Lane to assault nearby German trenches. Sadly less than 10 mins after the mine was detonated, the Lancashires were mown down by German machine gun fire as they left Sunken Lane to cross No Man's Land.

Anyone who suggests Malin's footage is not a worthy account because it is not a contemporaneous account would do well to appreciate the difficulties of filming trench warfare from a static camera, and the challenges of traveling back in time nearly one hundred years to do better! Moreover, the poignant images of the Lancashire Pals offer a stark reminder of the noble sacrifice paid by many young men for the freedom of others.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 August 2009
I bought this for my Dad; He's watched A LOT of war programmes, films etc. so I thought maybe it would be more of the same kind of stuff he's already seen but he was seriously impressed and amazed at the footage, highly recommended (on his behalf!).
0Comment|14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 June 2009
A great DVD,captured by the cameramen at the time certainly conveys how bad it was during that battle and the terrible conditions they lived in.
It was quite a horrific time although they must have edited out the more gruesome shots. I would recommend people buy yhis so we never forget the sacrifices made by all those brave men.
0Comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 July 2011
A moving and insightful film coupled with a fantastic music score.
A mine of visual information for anyone with an interest in WW1.
Disturbing to see so many young smiling faces, were they to know the horror of what lay before them I wonder if their faces would tell another story.
Relatively balanced for a propaganda film and certainly worthy of your money.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 September 2013
The DVD is well worth buying. A very interesting period WWI documentary, Great picture quality and interesting audio commentary, revealing facts otherwise you will probably miss altogether, e.g. camaraman filming a mortar being fired from closeby, endangering himself in case of misfire (actual crew taking shelter around the corner!).
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)