WWI: The View from the Ground

‘The most imposing and important picture of the war’ - David Lloyd George on The Battle of the Somme.

Most of the films screening here were made during the conflict itself, or soon after, and so reflect what was going on very directly. The British government was slow to wake up to the possibilities for mass communication offered by the newly established cinema networks, but when conscription was introduced in 1916 they became involved with film in earnest with The Battle of the Somme, an official attempt to answer the rising popular demand for pictures from the Front. As the war dragged on, film was used more extensively as an information and propaganda tool. These rare films, sourced primarily from the Imperial War Museum and the BFI National Archive, reveal an astonishing range of wartime images you wouldn’t ordinarily see.

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