A New History of British Documentary by J. Chapman

By J. Chapman

A brand new heritage of British Documentary is the 1st finished evaluation of documentary creation in Britain from early movie to the current day. It covers either the movie and tv industries and demonstrates how documentary perform has tailored to altering institutional and ideological contexts.

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Paul, James Williamson and Cecil Hepworth – saw themselves as businessmen rather than creative artists: their business was making and selling films to satisfy the public’s interest in the new medium of moving pictures. 5 This is evident in the response to the first public screening in Britain by Birt Acres at the Royal Photographic Society on 14 January 1896, which included a one-shot film entitled Rough Sea at Dover. 6 As well as being a cottage industry, film was also very much a local enterprise.

The authentic scenes of combat, for example, are shot from such a distance that the action is barely distinguishable. Another reason is that Battle of the Somme was quite explicitly a propaganda film: it was released with the intention of mobilizing the public behind the war effort and as a counter to the casualty lists that were appearing in the press. Hence the film presents the opening day of 32 A New History of British Documentary the Somme offensive as a military success and makes no reference to the scale of the casualties.

On the morning of 1 July, Malins filmed the explosion of a massive mine under the German strongpoint at Hawthorn Ridge, then followed the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers moving up through the assault trenches. He then joined his colleague McDowell at a dressing post where they filmed the wounded of both sides being treated. They also filmed captured German trenches and, finally, the survivors of the first assault coming out of the line to rest. At this point it does not seem that there was any intention to do more than to release the Somme footage as a short topical in much the same style as the 27 official films already issued during 1916.

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