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For the Empire Part 1

Description of film

At the start of this clip Britannia (representing Britain) points out ‘What others are doing for us’. We then see a young recruit being waved off to war by his poor, elderly parents. The action then moves to scenes of trench warfare. From here we see scenes of action in wintry conditions. Next the scene shifts to show the wounded in hospital and an appeal to the public to continue supporting the war. The next scene closes with the broken hearted parents of the son who went off to fight looking at the roll of honour. Following this we see a number of scenes showing the bereaved and broken-hearted families, both rich and poor.

Context

Historians estimate that around 9 million people saw this film at cinemas all over the country. It was designed to generate support for the war, but it was also controversial because it gave audiences at home quite a good idea of what conditions in the trenches were like. The main action scenes probably come from the film ‘Battle of the Somme’, the main battle involving British forces in 1916. The action scenes are mixed with scenes designed to boost support for the war.

Interesting or important points about the film

Rather like the ‘Battle of the Somme’, this film is interesting in the way in which it sometimes glosses over the horrors of war but is also quite open about losses and some aspects of the hardship of war. It compares very well to modern coverage of warfare.

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Further information
Category1900-45
Sub categoryThe Great War
FilmFor the Empire Part 1
SourceIWM 714
ProducerGaumont
Year1916
DateApril 20th 1916
Length3:20