SMITHER Roger (1993)

October 30, 2008 § 2 Comments

SMITHER Roger: “‘A wonderful idea of the fighting’: the question of fakes in ‘The Battle of the Somme’.”Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. 13, 1993: 149-168.

Etudie en détail l’authenticité des séquences du film Battle of the Somme (1916). 

3 critères pour l’authenticité: 

 – le film est conforme à ce qu’annonce les intertitres (intertitres en gros conformes aux exigences de la guerre, notamment pas bcp de détails pour éviter de donner des renseignements militaires), 

 – le film repose sur une solide base documentaire (les dope sheets renseignent sur certaines séquences, la biographie de Malins n’est pas en revanche une base très solide), 

– enfin le film est conforme à la vérité historique.  (p. 154)

Au passage, note que le film BBC The Great War (1964) qui a remis au goût du jour les séquences tournées pendant la 1ère guerre mondiale n’a pas hésité devant les manipulations d’images. Mon exemple préféré:

“film was reversed to ensure that on the whole the Allies advance left-to-right across the screen and the Central Powers right-to-left as on maps of the western front, even if this resulted in whole regiments of left-handed soldiers” (p. 153)

Conclue que Malins et les autres caméramen du newsreel ont surtout cherché à améliorer leurs images, en demandant aux soldats d’accomplir certains gestes, en faisant rejouer d’autres scènes de combat en sécurité, etc.  Le nombre de séquences jugées inauthentiques reste faible – et ce ne sont pas forcément (sauf la séquence de sortie des tranchées) les plus dramatiques ou les plus intéressantes du film.

HAGGITH Toby (2002)

October 29, 2008 § 1 Comment

HAGGITH Toby: “Reconstructing the Musical Arrangement for “The Battle of the Somme” (1916).” Film History. 14, no. 1, 2002: 11-24.

Toby Haggith a reconstitué l’accompagnement suggéré par J. Morton Hutcheson (colonne “Music in the Cinema” publiée à l’époque dans la revue The Bioscope), en tentant d’identifier et de retrouver toutes les partitions (pas toujours facile: certaines ont disparu, d’autres survivent mais dans d’autres arrangements…). Hutcheson recommande pas moins de 33 morceaux différents, et choisit surtout des morceaux que le public pourra reconnaître (seuls 9 morceaux du 19è siècle).

Comparaison avec d’autres arrangements, modernes (notamment du pianiste Andrew Youdell qui avait enregistré la musique du DVD du film en 1993): plus de musiques différentes dans la version de Hutcheson, plus de marches militaires, un message portant sur la nécessité du sacrifice plus clair, mais aussi des passages tout autant élégiaques, ou émouvants, notamment sur les images des morts. 

Rôle de la musique pas négligeable: aide le message de propagande (la nécessité, la noblesse du sacrifice consenti gaiement), et aide la structure du film (en renforçant la narration: la musique permet d’éviter notamment un sentiment de répétition entre Part 1 et Part 5).

Battle Music

October 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

From Pictures and the Picturegoer, 7 oct. 1916, p. 25, Fred Adlington’s take on the music for Battle of the Somme (1916):

Battle of the Somme – readings

October 28, 2008 § 1 Comment

Not a full bibliography on that influential and much-studied film, the 1916 British War Film The Battle of the Somme, but a list of articles and books that seemed of special interest to me. It will be updated as I read the references.

Pordenone diary – day seven

October 23, 2008 § 1 Comment

More music in silent film stuff.

Count me in as one of those that wasn’t overtly impressed by Michael Nyman’s playing for either Jean Vigo’s A propos de Nice or Dziga Vertov’s Kino Pravda. A propos de Nice, a naughty, irreverent and poetic piece, I had seen last year already, with, per force, a different accompaniment. I can’t say the four or five musical themes that Nyman brought to the film and kept on repeating time after time after time did much for me. On some dreamy plane they did fit the film, but I suspect it’s because of the inherent nostalgic feeling most black and white silent films create in viewers. The repetition of lush musical themes will nicely contribute to the same feeling. But there was something utterly mechanistic about Nyman’s accompaniment, where one musical theme was tightly identified with one theme in the film (music for workers; music for people strolling; etc.). And to read, the next day, in the local newspaper, an interview where the maestro explained how what he wanted to do, with his music, was to surprise the listener…that’s too much for me to bear.

But then, I don’t have much feeling for celebrities. I like the old Hollywood adage: 

you’re as good as your last film.

which Stroheim used as a sign of Hollywood’s utter philistinism (Stroheim enjoyed being lionized for his past achievements in Europe). I only wish it would apply to more professions…

Now day 7 for me: nothing about Shiryaev here. Couldn’t get past the social context, of a rich Russian enjoying life filming himself and his family in little summer playlets while Cossacks and poverty went raging through the land, and therefore I still fail to see the significance of all this

(but, as Urbanora said, “we’ll all be wiser” by the end of the festival…)

So I went to see the 1916 British newsreel/documentary film The Battle of the Somme. There was an introduction to this by the restoration team from the Victoria and Albert War Museum, with the keynote address being, for me, from pianist (and composer) Stephen Horne (the only pianist playing at Pordenone to have a groupies’ website on Facebook ?). How to restore the original score for the film ? 

Indeed the film had premiered with the 1916 score at Pordenone in 2006, and the restoration DVD will feature both that score and a new score by Laura Rossi (her goal: to find music that fits the mood of the soldiers shown on film). But the film, while very moving, was also essentially a propaganda piece at the time, and the music was supposed to reflect the upbeat, optimistic mind frame that military authorities were trying to project on what was a very bloody battle. To me the interesting point was how to gauge audience reaction by the music: did musicians in 1916 all play the upbeat music provided by the British Bioscope ? New Yorkers seem to have reacted to the devastation portrayed in the film with horror…would they have accepted a gay march to accompany the film ? Definitely more research in the reception of this film (or more reading!) is required.

Next: our last Pordenone day: Fields, Marion Davies, and Griffith, ever the visionary, starts the last film he ever made with a strong Obama endorsement.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Battle of the Somme (1916) at flycz.

%d bloggers like this: