Category Archives: Film

War Illustrated

Peter Jackson’s film They Shall Not Grow Old is technically astonishing, but some things about it worry me. One of these is its use of pictures from the magazine War Illustrated, published weekly between September 1914 and February 1919. I bought some 1916 issues on Ebay recently, and they have made interesting reading.

Frail Women (1932)

Another Maurice Elvey film from Talking Pictures TV, to go with his Who Goes Next? which I wrote about yesterday. Frail Women is a melodrama that uses the trope of the war baby to explore the themes of illegitimacy and responsibility. Mary was born in 1916, placed in a care home and then adopted by […]

1917 – a film for 2020

The first thing that must be said about 1917 is that it’s a gripping and brilliantly made film. The effect is that the camera follows two soldiers on a dangerous mission, in a single shot, in real time. An effect of immediate realism is produced that looks simple, but has in fact been achieved by […]

What’s the very worst war novel?

The worst WW1 novel? I’d generally be tempted to name one of the really poor twenty-first century efforts, like John Boyne’s The Absolutist, a book which combines an utter confidence in its own self-righteousness with an astonishing disregard for historical actuality. Recently, however, I have read a novel of 1922 which takes the (tasteless and […]

‘Lest We Forget’ at IWM North

Selecting the Unknown Soldier. Image from ‘Lest We Forget’ Until February 24, 1919, there is a very good free exhibition at the Salford branch of the IWM. ‘Lest we Forget’ is about remembrance, and ways in which the Great War cast its shadow over succeeding years. The exhibition starts with the dead – a wall […]

Scottish Women’s Hospital

I was browsing through the interesting sequence of  Persephone Posts, and came across a link to this archive film of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals founded by Elsie Inglis: http://movingimage.nls.uk/film/0035http://movingimage.nls.uk/film/0035 It gives an idea of life in the fourteen field hospitals set up by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in various European theatres of […]

‘The Battle of the Ancre’ – at Sheffield

On Tuesday 13th November at 6.30 p.m., there will be a public showing of the 1917 film The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks at Sheffield Hallam University (at the Void Cinema, Room 123 (Building level 1) of the Owen Building. This was the second of the full-length documentaries commissioned by […]

Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’

Peter Jackson’s new film They Shall Not Grow Old is a technical marvel. From hundreds of hours of archive film it creates a vivid account of the Great War that looks amazingly new. The film archive of the Imperial War Museum has been cleaned, speed-adjusted and colourised to present a picture of British soldiers in […]

Wonder Woman (12A)

Huddled in a front line trench in November 1918, a Belgian refugee bemoans her flight to some visitors. Inflamed by the narrative, one of the visitors, a young woman, rips off her coat and dress, and, clad only in a sort of armour plated swimming costume, nimbly slips over the top to confront the enemy. […]

Arnold Bennett, the theatre and the cinema

Looking for something quite different altogether in the October 1920 copies of The Stage, I came across this item about Arnold Bennett. It prints his rather abrupt reply to a request to help the campaign trying  to preserve the Royal, Hanley, as a theatre, and prevent its conversion into a picture palace: