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The Battle of the Somme (1916)

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The Battle of the Somme (US title, Kitchener's Great Army in the Battle of the Somme), is a 1916 British documentary and propaganda war film, shot by two official cinematographers, Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. The film depicts the British Army in the preliminaries 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 during which 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, watched by about 20 million people in Britain in the first six weeks of exhibition and distributed in eighteen other 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. In 2005 it was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register and digitally restored, and in 2008, was released on DVD. The Battle of the Somme is an early example of film propaganda and a popular source of footage illustrating the First World War.

The Battle of the Somme is a black-and-white silent film in five parts, with sequences divided by intertitles summarising the contents. The first part shows preparations for battle behind the British front line; there are sequences of troops marching towards the front, French peasants continuing their farm work in rear areas, the stockpiling of munitions, General Beauvoir De Lisle addresses the 29th Division and some of the preparatory artillery bombardment by 18-pounder, 60-pounder and 4.7-inch guns, 6-inch, 9.2-inch howitzers and 2-inch mortars is shown. The second part depicts more preparations, troops moving into front line trenches, the intensification of the artillery barrage by 12-inch and 15-inch howitzers, a 9.45 inch Heavy Mortar and the detonation of the Hawthorn Ridge Mine. Part three begins with the attack on First day on the Somme (1 July 1916), with some re-enactments and shows the recovery of British wounded and German prisoners. The fourth part shows more scenes of British and German wounded, the clearing of the battlefield and some of the aftermath. The final part shows scenes of devastation, including the ruins of the village of Mametz, British troops at rest and preparations for the next stage of the advance.[1]

ce film documentaire hisorique muet, est considéré comme le premier long métrage documentaire sur la guerre et, à ce titre, il est inscrit depuis 2004 au Registre international Mémoire du monde de l'UNESCO. Ce film sort en salle à Londres quelques semaines après le 1er juillet 1916, date de début de l'offensive " la bataille de la Somme ". Il montre les soldats en action, en mélangeant des évènements réels et des actions reconstituées. Son but premier est de remonter le moral des spectateurs mais les images, montrant toute la violence de la guerre moderne, choquent au contraire. À Londres, 30 salles le projettent et, à l'automne 1916, 20 millions de Britanniques l'ont vu