In World War One, newsreels like Gaumont Graphic had a part to play in reassuring the public that the fight was going well. This item appeared in early 1916, soon after the Shell Crisis in Britain had been sparked by a serious shortage of artillery on the front lines. It only takes a few pans across a field full of lorries being loaded with French munitions to imply that when it came to Allied firepower, it was all noisy on the Western Front.
Calming a political panic is never easy. But at almost two minutes’ length, this was an ambitious newsreel item for its time – and there’s no denying the power of the spectacle it unfolds. The camera surveys the scene at a leisurely pace, with different shots edited together to offer a near panorama of this giant armoury.