For the Empire – Part 2
This clip takes us first through a sequence of ruined cities in Belgium and France and shows scenes of complete devastation. This is contrasted with London’s safety from such attacks and this then links to a shot of merchant ships, the film pointing out that Britain’s safety depends on these ships and their sailors. The cost of the war is indicated, namely the cost of a Dreadnought battleship, soldiers’ wages (against scenes of troops being paid). The film then moves to munitions and shows a factory full of women workers. This is followed by a series of notes detailing the cost of a hand grenade and other equipment. The aim is to encourage the public to buy government war bonds to support the war effort.
Historians estimate that around 9 million people saw this film at cinemas all over the country. It was designed to generate support for the war, but it was also controversial because it gave audiences at home quite a good idea of what conditions in the trenches were like. The main action scenes probably come from the film ‘Battle of the Somme’, the main battle involving British forces in 1916. The action scenes are mixed with scenes designed to boost support for the war.
Interesting or important points about the film
A theme from this film is the government’s attempt to keep the public informed about how the war is being run. Clearly, the government though that it would be more effective to appeal for war bonds if people had some idea of what their contributions would provide for the armed forces.
Please note that this video is silent.