Alastair H Fraser is an author and historian.
Ghosts on the Somme: Filming the Battle, June-July 1916by Alastair Fraser, Andrew Robertshaw, Steve Roberts
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The Battle of the Somme is one of the most famous, and earliest, films of war ever made. The film records the most disastrous day in the history of the British army - 1 July 1916 - and it had a huge impact when it was shown in Britain during the war. Since then images from it have been repeated so often in books and documentaries that it has profoundly influenced our view of the battle and of the Great War itself. Yet this book is the first in-depth study of this historic film, and it is the first to relate it to the surviving battleground of the Somme.
The authors explore the film and its history in fascinating detail. They investigate how much of it was faked and consider how much credit for it should go to Geoffrey Malins and how much to John MacDowell. And they use modern photographs of the locations to give us a telling insight into the landscape of the battle and into the way in which this pioneering film was created.
Their analysis of scenes in the film tells us so much about the way the British army operated in June and July 1916 - how the troops were dressed and equipped, how they were armed and how their weapons were used. In some cases it is even possible to discover what they were saying. This painstaking exercise in historical reconstruction will be compelling reading for everyone who is interested in the Great War and the Battle of the Somme.
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