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Duration 2:34

The Battle of the Somme: the impact of modern weapons

The clip starts with some pretty harrowing footage of a German trench devastated by artillery fire. We then see a pet dog killed in action and then more harrowing shots of British and German dead. We then see a burial party at work. This is followed by a brief glimpse of big guns and then soldiers cheerily marching off to further triumphs.

Context

‘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

This film is very interesting for the historian in terms of providing us with a view of the impact and terrible effects of modern weapons. What is most interesting is the honest and open way in which these effects were shown to the general public. Few modern media reports are as graphic as this.

Please note that this video is silent.

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