Battle of the Somme. 1916.
Film Documentary. Listed on UNESCO's "Memory of the World" records.
Perhaps the worlds first war documentary.
It seemed an excellent idea. Send two film makers over and have them document the 'big push' for everyone to watch in the cinema. This is what we are fighting for, to give the old Bosch a bloody nose, and everyone home for Christmas. It would be such a shame to miss it. Fresh young cheery lads, larking about, waving for the camera and the folks back home. Just what was needed. Near 20,000 were dead and another 57,000 lay wounded in the first 24 hours. 141 days later, there were a million casualties from both sides.
Upon release, 20 million watched the film documentary that was produced, probably half the population, hoping for a glimpse of family or friends on the screen. And it seared an image into the national consciousness so powerfully that it is carried today in the minds eye of the average 'man in the street', 100 years later, as if carried in our very genes, passing from generation to generation.
Of course, it was always intended to be a piece of propaganda, so along with the mind numbing destruction (and some of it staged), we see a particularly good document of the quality of the equipment, techniques, uniforms, treatment of the wounded that was prevalent at the time. An intention was to show just how modern and well equipped the chaps were after all.
The film has been cleaned up, re-mastered (not for the first time) and is being released by 126 organisations in the UK and 86 overseas this year, being shown in universities, libraries, town and village halls, churches and museums, as well as 82 British embassies, and museums in the Republic of Ireland and Germany.
It is also to be given full screenings at selected cinemas complete with orchestra.