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Geoffrey Malins Battle of the Somme - Watch exclusive film

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Okt 2006 20:45    Onderwerp: Geoffrey Malins Battle of the Somme - Watch exclusive film Reageer met quote

Silent suffering
Filled with shocking scenes of soldiers cheering on their way to die in combat, it was the most watched film of its day. The men behind The Battle of the Somme lived on to tell the tale. But did they tell it honestly? By Christopher Hudson



Click here to watch exclusive short film of the Great War, filmed by Geoffrey Malins in 1917. It depicts at close range the destruction of a German gun emplacement - and the staggering professionalism of the British soldiers who attacked it
http://exodus.interoutemediaservices.com/?id=957d019e-57bc-4e52-99e6-2e57a50ba10f&delivery=stream

You might think, when asked to guess what was the most popular film ever shown in Britain, that it was Gone with the Wind or ET or the first Harry Potter. In fact it almost certainly was none of those, nor any other box-office hit that you could bring to mind. The answer is probably a film called The Battle of the Somme, which was screened so long ago that nobody who saw its London premiere would still be alive.

The Battle of the Somme was made and shown in 1916, while the battle itself was still raging. A silent movie with captions, over an hour long, it was filmed on the western front, within sight, sound and shell-range of the German guns. The secretary of state for war, David Lloyd George, sent a stirring message to a select audience of cinema proprietors, diplomats, journalists and officers of the Imperial General Staff. “I am convinced that when you have seen this wonderful picture every heart will beat in sympathy with its purpose,” he said – “which is no other than that every one of us at home and abroad shall see what our men at the Front are doing and suffering for us. Now, gentlemen, be up and doing also! See that this picture, which is in itself an epic of self-sacrifice and gallantry, reaches everyone. Herald the deeds of our brave men to the end of the earth! This is your duty!”

The home front, as the non-combatant British public was beginning to call itself, needed no encouragement. There were some 4,500 cinemas in Britain, and a population of 43m. The Battle of the Somme opened in 34 cinemas in London alone. People queued all day to book tickets; thousands were turned away from the doors. The film broke box-office records wherever it was shown. Within six weeks, reportedly 20m people had paid to see it. As far as I know, that record – almost half the population – has yet to be broken.

The newspapers heralded it as a masterpiece that made other films look very small. It had an authenticity not seen before, heightened by the knowledge that the battle was still raging a few miles across the Channel. Its effect would have been as vivid and immediate as it is for audiences today watching United 93, a documentary about the plane aimed at the Pentagon on 9/11. Frances Stevenson, Lloyd George’s secretary and mistress who had lost her brother Paul in the fighting, summed up the feelings of many cinemagoers when she wrote: “It reminded me of what Paul’s last hours were. I have often tried to imagine to myself what he went through, but now I know, and I shall never forget. It was like going through a tragedy. I felt something of what the Greeks must have felt when they went in their crowds to witness those grand old plays – to be purged in their minds through pity and terror.”

The film is the first British item to be placed on Unesco’s Memory of the World Register, which recognises items of “world significance and global influence”. Yet The Battle of the Somme barely features in the public mind. It does not appear in Halliwell’s Film Guide, or David Shipman’s two-volume The Story of Cinema. That it was made under official auspices hardly disqualifies it: officialdom had no inkling of what was going to emerge.

Now this 90-year-old veteran is being given a makeover, digitally remastered for future release on DVD. The remastered film will make its first public appearance in its entirety at a gala screening later this year.

Earlier this year, in The Battle of the Somme: The True Story, Yap Films, a Canadian production company, subjected a newly digitalised section of the film to close scrutiny. The film team are convinced that, contrary to long-held belief, The Battle of the Somme is entitled to another, more macabre claim to uniqueness.

The cinematographer Geoffrey Malins, one of two cameramen who filmed the first day of the Battle of the Somme, always claimed that he had filmed men going over the top in the first wave and being cut down. He wrote as much in his cockily self-regarding memoir, How I Filmed the War. Lieutenant Malins, dynamic and egotistical, a showman to his fingertips, was the driving force behind the film as it appeared.

Malins’s book reveals almost nothing about himself, possibly to obscure the detail of his undistinguished background. He let it be known in conversation that his name was Geoffrey Malins and that he had been born in Lincolnshire in 1887, or more romantically in Ireland in 1883. But according to his biographer, Nicholas Hiley, he was born Arthur Herbert Malins in 1886, the son of a Hastings hairdresser. The hairdresser himself had been disowned by his parents for marrying the housemaid – a social calamity that was keenly felt by Geoffrey Malins’s in-laws when he came to marry his first wife. That Malins thereafter was obsessed by issues of status and prestige was hardly surprising.

He trained as a professional portrait photographer, and labelled himself “artist” on his marriage licence in 1909. Cheap snapshot cameras were wiping out the photographic studios, and in 1910, the year his first daughter was born, he was hired as a cameraman with a small London studio that turned out lavish costume dramas. By the time war broke out, just after the birth of his second daughter, he was in great demand. But Malins hated the anonymity of studio work: he wanted to make his name as a war photographer. He moved to Gaumont Graphic, which in due course dispatched him to the Belgian front with some money, a camera and several cans of film.

The difficulties of filming the Great War make modern-day filming in Iraq or Lebanon look like a joyride. The cameras themselves were heavy and unwieldy, and their motors tended to jam. Screwed onto tripods, they were cranked by hand. Changes of focus or even of camera angle were complicated. Zoom lenses didn’t exist. The cameras could not be tracked unless they were mounted on a rail or a moving vehicle. The cellulose nitrate film stock was dangerously inflammable, and the cameraman or his assistant had to carry about 70lb of film around with him. Once they were set up, the cameras were sometimes mistaken for machineguns and became the target of enemy fire. Then there were the politics to deal with. In 1916 there was no co-ordinated propaganda machine to play up the heroism of the British armed forces and the villainy of the enemy. A Topical Committee, formed from the leading newsreel companies, had been set up to produce and distribute news films under government supervision – but no thought had been given to filming the Great War for posterity. Malins and his fellow cameraman John McDowell were reliant on the officers locally in command to tell them when and where they should set up their bulky equipment so as to make sense of the apparently aimless confusion of battle.

They were lucky to be out there at all. Lord Kitchener hated the press. As commander-in-chief of British forces during the latter stages of the Boer war, he was convinced that criticism in the newspapers had encouraged the enemy and drawn out the hostilities. In September 1914, as newly appointed secretary of state for war, he had excluded all newsmen and photographers from the western front. Right through 1915, according to the film historian S D Badsey, the only photographs of the British front were taken by a couple of regular army officers who sent them to GHQ Intelligence.

Kitchener’s loathing was shared by Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the 1st Army. In May 1915 an impudent Times correspondent had visited a forward artillery observation post without Haig’s permission. Shortly after his dispatch appeared, the post was shelled by the enemy. Haig’s reaction was to ban all newsmen from at least half the British line. Paradoxically, the rules would be relaxed for newsreel cameramen. The authorities, brought up long before the age of moving pictures, didn’t take them seriously, unlike newspapers, which were read in the London clubs.

At the start of the war, according to a war- cabinet report in 1917, the cinema “was almost universally regarded as an instrument for the entertainment of the masses; the educated classes thought of ‘the pictures’ as responsible for turning romantic schoolboys into juvenile highwaymen, as a sort of moving edition of the ‘penny dreadful’”. So Malins got his chance for immortality. He had trained for it in 1915 on the Belgian front and in France, making short war films with names like The Battle of the Sand Dunes, and Brilliant French Victory in the Vosges. The War Office finally gave permission to film on the western front at the end of October 1915 (four months before press photographers were licensed to go out) on condition that they were supervised by a press officer from GHQ. As an “official kinematographer”, Malins was paid a wage of £1 a day, provided with transport and lodging and rated as lieutenant. His press officer, Captain John Faunthorpe, formerly of the Indian civil service, was noted for his languid manner and his taste for polo and tiger-shooting. His appointment in the middle of the war as military director of kinematograph operations was, to him, “one of the inexplicable jests of fate”.

Faunthorpe was impressed by Malins’s audacity. For a short called The Destruction of a German Blockhouse, Malins filmed a battery of big guns 6ft away, plugging his ears with cotton wool. Faunthorpe instructed him not to let his camera be seen until the Germans were taking shelter, but in his eagerness to get the shot, Malins exposed his camera and drew enemy fire.

Genuine images of action like this were rare, even in the first half of 1916. Malins’s colleagues tended to use material patently shot in training camps, and the public was losing interest. Days before the two official cinematographers went out to cover the battle of the Somme – Malins to the 29th Division at the northern end of the line and McDowell to the 7th Division near the southern end – GHQ responded by giving them better access to the forward areas. It gave their pictures a new dimension.

The big push was postponed because of bad weather. With a day or two to spare, Malins and McDowell drove through areas just behind the front lines. They took the opportunity to film sequences that were later inserted into The Battle of the Somme, including mortars being fired and shells bursting at a trench mortar school, and columns of infantry waving jovially at the camera as they marched towards the front before the attack. The artillery bombardment to soften up the enemy was remorseless: “The air was literally humming with shells. It seemed like a race of shrieking devils, each trying to catch up with the one in front,” Malins wrote.

Malins threw in his lot with the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers. In the scenes leading up to their first attack they hold their heads high, as befitted the battalion that had won six VCs “before breakfast” during the Gallipoli landings. Yet the division’s attack on the shell-torn village of Beaumont- Hamel was to produce one of the worst disasters of that disastrous day.

The night before July 1, Malins set up station in White City, so called because its trenches were cut out of the chalk bank. The night was cold but quiet, except for the scurrying of countless rats. He had a viewpoint looking out towards the Germans, with a sunken road 50 yards away across no man’s land. At dawn he was escorted there. Dragging his camera behind him, Malins was led down a narrow, hastily constructed tunnel which brought him out on the sunken road, halfway between the two armies. There he filmed the fusiliers eating breakfast as they prepared to go over the top, before returning to his perch in White City. At 7.20am, Malins filmed the starting gun for battle on the Somme – the explosion of a tremendous mine laid under German positions at Hawthorne Redoubt. In his words he then “swung the camera round” to capture the visual climax of the film – scenes of British soldiers going over the top. The caption reads: “The attack. At a signal, along the entire 16-mile front, the British troops leaped over the trench parapets and advanced toward the German trenches, under heavy fire of the enemy”. We see a dozen men scramble over the parapet. Two fall back; one of them slides down into the trench and slumps motionless. As the men clear the wire in the distance, two more fall.

This scene, above all others, brought home to cinemagoers the horror of war. “Oh my God, they’re dead!” cried out one woman in the audience. The author H Rider Haggard noted: “There is something appalling about the instantaneous change from fierce activity to supine death… War has always been dreadful, but never, I suppose, more dreadful than today”. Some viewers were outraged. “I beg leave respectfully to enter a protest against an entertainment which wounds the heart and violates the very sanctities of bereavement,” wrote the Dean of Durham.

Yet this scene, the climax of the film, is potentially its greatest disappointment: it was almost certainly staged. As Roger Smither, keeper of the Film and Photograph Archives at the Imperial War Museum, points out, the trench is unwired, far too shallow and open to sniper fire. The troops appear not to be carrying all the notoriously heavy equipment that weighed down soldiers on July 1, and the camera angle is such that the cameraman would be exposed to enemy fire. A veteran interviewed decades later described meeting a soldier who had “died” for Malins during filming. None of this evidence is conclusive; nor does it refute the contemporary judgment, summed up by the Illustrated London News, that “Never before has a battle been filmed at such close quarters”.

War scenes have been “improved” ever since Matthew Brady’s famous 1863 photograph of a dead rebel sharpshooter in the American civil war, for which Brady dragged the corpse 40 yards, propped its head on a knapsack so it faced the camera and placed a rifle nearby for dramatic effect. We know this is how war is. Brady encapsulated it, as Malins does in his attack sequence. And immediately after the allegedly staged scene comes the recently discovered footage of real combat, some of the most telling and heart-rending scenes on that first day on the Somme. From his precarious position in the now-abandoned trenches, overlooking the ground ahead, Malins’s camera records the fateful advance of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment down a slight incline in the middle distance. Eight battalions had been sent against the German trenches in two waves of attacks. It was inconceivable to the divisional commanders that they would not have not overrun the German lines, so the Newfoundlanders were sent out in the third wave, to leapfrog over the victorious troops ahead and clear the German trenches. The Newfoundlanders had 300 yards to cover before reaching the British front lines, then a similar distance across no man’s land. As soon as they reached open ground, the German machinegunners opened fire. There was no British covering fire to distract their aim. In the remastered film we see the tiny figures, rifle bayonets on shoulders, advance down the ridge, then crumple and fall, while the others march on to their deaths. The Newfoundlanders suffered 91% casualties in 40 minutes: 26 officers and 658 men.

The Battle of the Somme thus becomes the first film in screen history to have footage of men being killed in combat. As real deaths do, they happen without fanfare, suddenly, out of the corner of an eye. John McDowell, the experienced 38-year-old head of the British and Colonial Film Company, was filming further south. None of his footage of the early attacks survives. Malins (who fails to mention McDowell in his memoirs) seems to have persuaded the Topical Committee’s editors to edit out most of his colleague’s footage.

Both cameramen returned to London from GHQ with about 4,000ft of exposed negative, yet while about 3,300ft of Malins’s footage appears in the finished film, all but 1,000ft of McDowell’s negative was discarded during editing. Malins and McDowell did not set out to make a feature film, but when the Topical Committee saw the rushes and realised the volume and quality of the footage, it was decided to compile a feature-length film.

After the first attacks, there follows a long shot of an anguished soldier carrying on his back a badly wounded comrade he has rescued from No Man’s Land, with the caption: “British Tommies rescuing a comrade under shell fire (this man died 30 minutes after reaching the trenches)”. After footage of the desolation of the battlefield, The Battle of the Somme concludes optimistically with cheering British tommies marching once more to the front.

The ending does little to relieve the tragic overtones of one of the strangest propaganda films ever made. We see without hearing the thunder of the guns, the whine of shells, the groans of the wounded, the sucking mud and the driving rain. The film’s success gave huge momentum to the propaganda war, yet its actual propaganda value was limited. Its titanic guns and primeval landscapes into which men marched with cheery faces to return stunned and exhausted, bandaged and trembling, conveyed a sense of aimless struggle and suffering.

Because Malins and McDowell were not shooting for a feature film, the film lacks a narrative, as did the war itself, with no prospect of an ending except for the dead. Some contemporary viewers interpreted the film as a plea for pacifism. Geoffrey Malins was eventually given an OBE, and deservedly so. He had several times risked his life to get the shots he wanted.

Nevertheless, he was unsuited to the disciplines of documentary film, and his grandiose posturing made him enemies. His memoir was regarded by GHQ as so outrageously self-serving that it didn’t get published until 1920.

Even so, the Somme film put him at the top of his profession. He filmed George V visiting his armies, and continued to film on the western front as chief cameraman for GHQ. Despite nervous exhaustion and an attack of dysentery, he made two other full-length war films. In June 1918, after a breakdown, he was discharged from the army. His wife divorced him. But Malins continued to work for London studios, directing dramas and comedies.

In 1922, styling himself Captain, he was the cameraman on a pioneering attempt to fly round the world. The seaplane ditched in the Indian Ocean and Malins clung to the wreckage for three days before being rescued (later he upped it to seven days). It became a feature film, Blazing the Airway to India, after which Malins returned to writing and directing. Four years later he made a more successful journey round the world, this time by motorbike, for a documentary he called Wanderlust.

His last film, A London Melody, was released in 1930. The following year he motored to South Africa via Cairo on a “British-Africa Trade Expedition”, and decided to settle there for good. A third daughter was born in 1938 from his third marriage (a second marriage, after the war, had been short-lived).

Malins died in 1940, aged 54. The Battle of the Somme had one last secret to offer up. Yap Films called in a forensic lip-reader to see if any of Malins’s soldiers, on that first day of the greatest battle in history, could be made to speak. Most of the men are silent. But one Lancashire fusilier, digesting his breakfast before going over the top into a hail of enemy fire, moves his lips clearly enough for us to break his 90-year silence. He says: “I hope we’re not in the wrong place…”

EXCLUSIVE: THE FIRST WORLD WAR IN PICTURES

Only to users of the Timesonline website, a dramatic (and never-before-released) short film by Geoffrey Malins from the archives of the Imperial War Museum. The film, which was made in 1917, depicts at close range the destruction of a German gun emplacement - and the staggering professionalism of the British soldiers who attacked it. View this extraordinary piece of cinematic and military history free at www.timesonline.co.uk

The digitally remastered version of The Battle of the Somme will premiere with a full orchestral accompaniment at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on October 22 at 7.30pm. For more information, visit www.rfh.org.uk

Sunday Times readers can purchase the best available tickets for £15 (usually up to £20). Call 0870 382 8000 and quote “Sunday Times offer” to book. Not available online.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2099-2381797_2,00.html
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Laatst aangepast door Yvonne op 10 Jan 2010 17:59, in totaal 1 keer bewerkt
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mastermindmichel



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BerichtGeplaatst: 13 Okt 2006 9:56    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Machtig!
Ik heb geprobeerd, ondanks mijn digibeetheid (?), dit op te slaan, maar ben hier niet in geslaagd.
Weet iemand hoe dat moet?
Dank bij voorbaat!
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Yvonne
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BerichtGeplaatst: 13 Okt 2006 11:22    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Nee, helaas, deze is niet zo 1,2,3 op te slaan.
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mastermindmichel



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BerichtGeplaatst: 13 Okt 2006 12:10    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Darn!
Maar bedankt voor de info!
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oorlogsgraven



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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Okt 2006 15:28    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Heb vrij probleemloos kunnen opslaan : cursor op link, rechtermuisknop, "Doel opslaan als...", bestemming op harde schijf kiezen.
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Wienne



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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Okt 2006 20:33    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ik speel zowat alle filmmedia in Quicktime met behulp voor Flip4Mac. En vanuit de Quicktime Player kon ik het filmpje gewoon opslaan als Quicktime Movie, als Source leverde inderdaad alleen een ASF file op.

Het staat nu op mijn bureaublad, mocht iemand interresse hebben... het is wel 22,8 Mb, dus mailen zal moeilijk lukken. Ik heb wel ergens nog een webaccount waar ik voldoende ruimte heb om het een tijdje te parkeren... Maar dan liefst als ik weet dat er belangstelling voor is. Ik laat het adres dan wel weten.

Wienne
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Adriaan van Kammen



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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Okt 2006 20:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Nou graag! Smile
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Wienne



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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Okt 2006 22:03    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Okido...

Ga naar http://www.romove.be/beurs/

Wienne
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Wienne



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BerichtGeplaatst: 20 Okt 2006 9:42    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Oei!

7.1 is inderdaad de laatste versie, waarschijnlijk ontbreekt er een codec. Gebruik je een Mac? Anders wil Flip4Mac wel eens helpen.

Alleszins bizar, ik heb de file specifiek als Quicktime movie bewaard.

Zegt ie wat er juist ontbreekt? Als het een codec is vraagt ie meestal of je hem wil gaan zoeken op het net.

Ik zit nu niet thuis, maar zal vanavond eens kijken (het is wel oudercontact, dus het kan later worden), desnoods maak ik er een MPEG van.

Wienne
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Jan 2010 17:31    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Meer over Malins:
http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=3806
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Jan 2010 17:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Volgens mij hoort dit erbij:
http://www.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/100/Somme%20DVD/documents/viewing_guide.pdf
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Jan 2010 17:55    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote


Voor mensen die niet weten waar Malins over filmde..
Al jaren puzzelt men over de vraag wie die twee waren.
( ik ben het draadje op FEW kwijt waar het over ging)
Op het Great War Forum liepen al diverse keren boeiende topics:

2004:
http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=63

En een nieuw topic met andere ontwikkelingen:
http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=31759

Op een ander forum:
http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/prewar/16190-does-anyone-know-story-behind.html

Zat leeswerk in ieder geval Smile
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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Jan 2010 17:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

In het boek Somme van Lyn Mcdonald wordt ook geschreven dat de mannen op een dag een film mochten kijken. Ik denk dat het om deze film (Battle of the Somme) ging.
Eerst zagen ze Charlie Chaplin en daarna beelden van hun eigen slag. Natuurlijk zonder geluid. Alleen hadden ze live geluid achter hen van het front.
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