1916 on Film
The war dragged on - and on… but cinemas offered more news from the Front, while trying to entertain those at home. Watch along with cinemagoers a century ago.
The war really began to take its toll on the film industry in 1916. Films and film stock were harder to come by, while conscription robbed studios and cinemas of workers. The big release of the year was The Battle of the Somme, a government-sanctioned 'documentary' seen by some 20 million people. Government relaxed its censorship, allowing greater (but still limited) access to the Front and commissioning films to keep the public informed. Cinema managers did their bit for the war effort by absorbing the entertainment tax and raising funds for ambulances across the sector. The newsreels increased their war coverage, carrying reports from the Front and stories of returning heroes and war work at home. Repackaged travelogues and information films helped make up for the shortage of new titles. The war increasingly crept into comedies and drama. One comic hero found himself pursued by man-hungry land girls, while moralistic features explored the strains on marriage during wartime or warned of German fifth columnists infiltrating the aristocracy. This collection is supported by The Eric Anker-Petersen Charity
A tramp steals the clothes from a scarecrow, but when he realises two couples are using its pockets to pass messages, he sees an opportunity.
Preston North End Football Club at Deepdale
Preston North End play Liverpool (probably) in a regional football competition during WWI.
Hastings Sea Angling Festival
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Hastings
It's Hastings' first fishing festival since WWI broke out and Britain's foremost newsreel company take to the pier to capture the catch on film.
British Sports and Pastimes. Series 5
19163 minsSilent Location: Coire Làgan
British leisure time, from intrepid climbing and frolics on the ice to the skill of billiards.
Blinded Soldiers Playing Push Ball
Sport19161 minsSilent Location: Catford
This moving scene of wounded WWI fighters in a London park reminds us of the real costs of combat.
The Great Blizzard
In the year that British Summer Time is introduced, the weather gods have their say, with a snowy gale ripping across southern England
John Bull's Animated Sketch Book
Animation & Artists Moving Image191610 minsSilent
The hand of the artist tweaks the nose of “Kaiser Bill” and friends in this episode from an early animated propaganda series
Horses' New Year's Dinners
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Cricklewood
Retired nags enjoy a well-earned New Year's feed at the Cricklewood Home of Rest for Horses.
Chiswick's Gallant Gunner
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Chiswick
Three cheers for Maurice Samuels, as a Chiswick tram driver receives a medal for bravery at the Western Front at Ypres.
Eccentric Club Entertain Wounded Soldiers
Non-Fiction19164 minsSilent Location: Molesey Lock
Soldiers stage a mock brawl and watch performances during festivities for 600 wounded soldiers held on an island in the Thames near Hampton Court.
Bruce Castle Fete
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Bruce Castle
A huge crowd watches the Lord Mayor of London open a fete in Tottenham for blinded soldiers and sailors.
Caterpillar Tractors Pull Gun Carriages
New Zealand artillery troops might not have to pull their big guns, but they are in for a bumpy ride
New Zealanders Win at Rugby
Sport19161 minsSilent Location: Richmond Park
Soldiers representing South Africa and New Zealand billeted in London get stuck in during a rugby fixture in Richmond Park.
Demonstration of the Churches
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Wanstead
Top-hatted dignitaries turn out in force for this service held to honour Wanstead locals serving in the armed forces.
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Wimbledon
A wonderful newsreel showing scenes at the 1916 by-election in Wimbledon, featuring charismatic challenger Kennedy Jones.
London's May Queen
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Hayes Common
Excitable children in their Sunday finery gawp at cameras during the parade for London’s May Queen.
Devonshire Hospital Buxton
Non-Fiction19162 minsSilent Location: Buxton
Rheumatic soldiers are treated with the latest in hydrotherapy at the Devonshire Hospital in Buxton, Derbyshire.
In the Interests of Mercy
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Croydon
Firepower and fancy dress as a captured German field gun is the focus of a parade through Croydon to mark Red Cross Week.
Topical Budget 245-1
Non-Fiction19161 mins Location: Kensington and Chelsea
Brass bands, bicycles and marching special constables outside the Albert Hall for a Sunday presentation before Bishop John Taylor-Smith outside the Albert Hall.
Palm Sunday Celebrations
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Westminster
Palms and fanfare ahead of Easter - a salient event in the Christian calendar is captured with crisp clarity.
Home-coming of Private Young, Preston's V.C.
Preston turns out in force for the homecoming of Private William Young, the valiant recipient of a Victoria Cross
Richmond Boys Naval Brigade
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Richmond
Young sailors from the Boys Naval Brigade give a demonstration on the lawn of the Star & Garter Home in Richmond.
England: Changing Guard at Horse Guards and St. James's Palace
Police officers hold back curious crowds as George V's infantrymen go about their day-to-day.
Inspection of Special Constables
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Barking
Crowds applaud 900 Special Constables as they drill before a packed pavilion in Barking.
U.S.A. Airship Somewhere in England
Coming out, going up and landing – a British-built Sea Scout Zero class blimp is put through its paces with the US Navy
The Porcupine - A Prickly Subject
Interest film19164 minsSilent
Close encounters of the furred (and spiny) kind: cute critters put through their paces in this light-hearted nature film.
On the Banks of Allan Water
The course of true love certainly doesn't run smooth in this unlikely Scottish drama from the Clarendon Film Company.
Bowls at Blackpool
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Blackpool
It's all about the angles at this bowls tourney, with the cameraman hitting the green for a nice ground level view.
'Let Them all Come!' First Cinema Pictures (Taken Soon after Dawn) Of London's Second Zeppelin Brought down in Essex
Non-Fiction19162 minsSilent Location: Great Burstead
The scorched remains of a downed “baby-killer” draws half of London to Snail’s Hall Farm near Billericay
The Vicar of Wakefield
Period drama191698 minsSilent
Leads and locations shine in this feature adaptation of Oliver Goldsmith's popular novel, a tale to soften hard hearts
Two Queens at Drury Lane
Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: London
No, not a poker hand but the arrival of royalty to a Saturday matinee in aide of women war workers
Tessa Dunlop: 1916 on Film
Tessa Dunlop, historian, journalist, presenter of BBC2’s Coast and Radio 4’s Crossing Continents, and writer of the recently published The Bletchley Girls, guides us through her selection of films from 1916.