Shooting The Somme : How an Iconic Film Was Faked
In 1916, the British High Command allowed two camera-men to film the ‘big push’, the long awaited British attack on the German trenches. The men chosen to film the battle were Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. Together they shot the material for a feature length documentary. The result was The Battle of the Somme; the first ever war film. It was rushed through production and was released into British cinemas in 1916, at a time while the battle was still continuing. The Battle of the Somme was a surprisingly candid and gritty film
which showed the full horror of life in the trenches. The film caused a sensation and crowds flocked to cinemas to witness the grim reality of the war. However, controversy soon followed, and rumours began to circulate that some scenes had been faked. Now over 100 years later, Bob Carruthers retraces the footsteps of Malins and McDowell in order to discover how much of the film was indeed real and how much of the film was faked for the cameras. In the process this powerful new book uncovers the century old secrets of the original filmmakers and finally reveals the truth behind how much of the film was actually simulated. The conclusions are startling and unexpected. The second part of this book features Geoffrey Malins’ recollections as published in his controversial book How I Filmed the War.