The Battle of the Somme: Battle Police
The film clip starts with Tommies making their way across No Man’s Land and into enemy front line trenches. We then see a title explaining that Battle Police are rounding up prisoners and wounded in No Man’s Land. From here we see large numbers of prisoners being marched away guarded by British soldiers and then relaxing in the sunshine as they are processed.
‘The Battle of the Somme’ was released in 1916. The government did not produce it, but they did approve it. The film was deeply controversial because the battle scenes were so shocking. Many observers felt it was too graphic. On the other hand, it appears that people appreciated the reality of the film-making. They preferred a film like ‘The Battle of the Somme’ because it didn’t try to pretend that war was easy or fun. People probably already had a good idea of what trench warfare was like from local newspapers and from talking to soldiers on leave.
Interesting or important points about the film
A Committee of MPs produced this film privately, not by the government. However, the government did approve the film before it was shown. It raises interesting questions about the film-makers. Was the purpose to make propaganda? Was it to make money? 8 million people watched the film. Is propaganda and profit the same thing at this time?
Please note that this video is silent.