Friday 25th August: The film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ will be shown at the Empire in Bedford on Monday, by special permission of the War Office. The film has already been shown in London and Bedford will be one of the first towns to see the film outside the capital. The film charts ‘the big push’, and promises to be a thrilling and heart-catching realisation of war:
“This film has not been produced for entertainment, but as a moving illustration of the events of the war for those who are removed from its grim and terrible realism. The government believe that the nation is strong enough to face the truth, and that when people know war as it is they will the more gratefully honour and reverence the men who have given their all that Britain may live.”
Part I of the film shows the preparatory action between 25th and 30th July, including the movement of the ‘Brave Bedfords’ on the eve of the attack. Part II shows the big day itself, with scenes of soldiers fixing wire cutters to their rifles in order to force their way through German barbed wire, a field battery in action and the memorable rush over the trenches in the face of devastating fire. Deeds of rescue are highlighted, one man bearing a comrade across his back as he crawls through a mass of barbed wire to safety. A hard fought British victory is celebrated, with footage of cheering Tommies and the burial of the German dead. The film lasts an hour and a quarter and the profits from the film will be sent to war charities.
Source: Bedfordshire Standard 25/08/1916
|Interior of the Empire cinema, c.1920|
Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service (ref: BTNegM8/52)