Troops marching, artillery firing. Ominous place names: Mametz, Fricourt, La Boiselle. Those familiar but certainly faked 'going over the top' shots. Laconic titles: 'Friend and foe help each other' as British and German wounded come in arm in arm. 'Battle police' moving over heavily shelled ground, 'mopping up'. Corpse shots. Compositions tend to the painterly - foreground, centre, background, all teeming with activity. In many ways this 'official record' is a 19th century work, just as the Somme was a 19th century battle, and naturally there's no sense that 1 July 1916 was the bloodiest fiasco in British military history. Fascinating, affecting, eloquent on many levels, some of them even intended. The video released by the Imperial War Museum unfolds in dead silence.
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