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1917 on Film

A fourth year of war and no end in sight. Government propaganda stepped up, and even animation took a dark turn... What our forebears saw in cinemas a century ago.

1917 was the darkest year of the war. With stagnation on the western front and the German U-boat campaign beginning to really bite, the country was now on a total war footing. In the film world, the government took over the Topical Film Company’s newsreel units and began to produce more propaganda films, largely on home front issues such as the formation of the Women's Land Army, as well as (well-censored) reporting from the front. Henry Edwards began to produce ‘film tags’: two-minute story films with home front messages on rationing, saving food and recycling materials. Meanwhile, momentous news from Russia barely registered in British films. With film stock scarce, only a few long dramas were produced. One of the most revealing films of the year is Dudley Buxton's animation Ever Been Had, which although ostensibly comic, imagines a grim future in which the British, having prematurely made peace with Germany before she was comprehensively beaten, are crushed by German super weapons. The destruction of London by death rays from the sky and great amphibious tanks crawling over its ruins is a chilling a vision as anything cinema has invented.

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No Mischief Here Can Satan Find for Idle Hands to DoNo Mischief Here Can Satan Find for Idle Hands to Do

19171 minsSilent

Pathe's series on WWI turns its eye homeward in this edition about the interning of enemy aliens

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The Production of a MapThe Production of a Map

Non-Fiction19177 minsSilent

Worlds within worlds: a maps and globes factory, expertly charted on celluloid

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Metropolitan Police Ambulance TeamMetropolitan Police Ambulance Team

191718 minsSilent

Metropolitan Police officers demonstrate their paramedic skills in this early training film

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Woman's DayWoman's Day

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

Help the women who are helping the men!

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History of the War: The Birth Place of the Great WarHistory of the War: The Birth Place of the Great War

19177 minsSilent

Episode of Pathé's series on WWI, focused on the outbreak of hostilities between Austria and Serbia

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Mighty AtomsMighty Atoms

19178 minsSilent

While mothers make guns, children have fun: take a peek inside the Woolwich Nursery for the Children of Munition Workers

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Mrs. Cooper's Film No 2Mrs. Cooper's Film No 2

Amateur film191726 minsSilent

Can film fight? In this fascinating amateur footage, King George sends officers to the front with reels and projectors

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Empire TroopsEmpire Troops

19173 minsSilent

The might of the British Empire is mobilised for war during 1914 and 1915.

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Carrying On in BlackpoolCarrying On in Blackpool

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent Location: Blackpool

What a carry on! Grown-ups and nippers alike enjoy some seaside fun at Blackpool

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Women Unloading Railway TrucksWomen Unloading Railway Trucks

Non-Fiction19172 minsSilent

Sprucely dressed women set themselves to lugging tarpaulin and unloading sacks in this WWI newsreel

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AlpsAlps

Travelogue19173 minsSilent

This scrapbook travelogue takes a pictorial tour of the Alps by train, sledge and sleigh

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Aldershot Command GazetteAldershot Command Gazette

19176 minsSilent

King George V and Queen Mary review activities at Aldershot, Hampshire - Britain's largest military training camp

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History of the War: Russian FrontHistory of the War: Russian Front

19174 minsSilent

Intriguing instalment in Pathé series on WWI, looking at our Russian allies on the Eastern Front

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"Peril" The Story of the Gotha Raiders"Peril" The Story of the Gotha Raiders

War191723 minsSilent Location: London

Lively blood and thunder yarn in which German spies try to destroy London's air defences

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History of the War: YpresHistory of the War: Ypres

19171 minsSilent

Tantalising fragment from Pathé's History of the War series, looking at the battle of Ypres

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King's Maundy MoneyKing's Maundy Money

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

King George V hands out the traditional silver coins to the poor on Maundy Thursday.

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Lowering Torpedo into Submarine E. 23Lowering Torpedo into Submarine E. 23

19177 minsSilent

The improved E class submarine, E.23, takes on fresh torpedoes for another stealth mission in this WWI news film

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Primeminister at BathPrimeminister at Bath

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent Location: Bath

Wartime wedding bells for Richard Lloyd George, son of the PM, at Bath Abbey.

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Italian and Greek Troops in Action: Italians Decorated by Prince of WalesItalian and Greek Troops in Action: Italians Decorated by Prince of Wales

Government sponsored film19177 minsSilent

Mysterious unidentified footage of troops in WW1 featuring a glimpse of Edward, Prince of Wales

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Wreck of L. 39Wreck of L. 39

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

French soldiers guard the wreck of the L.39 Zeppelin, brought down by Brought down in the Boulevard Gambetta, Compiegne

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Lines of CommunicationLines of Communication

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

Entrenched support for the front lines: French engineers lay cables to enable HQ to direct troops from as far away as possible

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St. David's DaySt. David's Day

Non-Fiction19170 minsSilent Location: Westminster

Welsh ladies selling St David's Day flags on the streets of Westminster brighten many a soldier's day.

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United Service SportsUnited Service Sports

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

Army athletes compete for glory on foot and bike.

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Will There Be Women MPs?Will There Be Women MPs?

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent Location: London

The leading organisation fighting for women's suffrage changes tack, as Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst launch the Women's Party.

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Potato PhilanthropistPotato Philanthropist

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

An East End celebrity hides in a hamper with some much-needed food for the women of the home front

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Peter's Picture PoemsPeter's Picture Poems

Animation & Artists Moving Image19173 minsSilent

A star-spangled sock on the nose for Kaiser Wilhelm, as this wordplay propaganda cartoon meets war crimes with pun-ishment

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Nation's Food - MeatNation's Food - Meat

19178 minsSilent

Where's the beef? The exotic origins of the British Sunday roast are explored in this short film about meat

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Potato QueuesPotato Queues

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

The humble spud is the star attraction for the long lines of people waiting to fortify their wartime Sunday lunches

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Sports on the IceSports on the Ice

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

Nannies and nippers compete with seasoned skaters on a frozen pond near London in this charming wintery newsreel.

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ToboganningToboganning

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent

Hitting the north London slopes for some snow-filled excitement

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Troops Training for the First World WarTroops Training for the First World War

19179 minsSilent

O Canada! Away from their native land, these troops are prepared for the Western Front at a Canadian Training School

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Everybody's BusinessEverybody's Business

Government sponsored film191730 minsSilent

"Eat less bread" is the key message in this ambitious propaganda film on the importance of 'food economy' to the war effort

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Porte Flying BoatPorte Flying Boat

Documentary191711 minsSilent

Don't be fooled - she's no baby. The Porte Baby's name belies the true size of this monster flying boat!

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Airship on a Mooring MastAirship on a Mooring Mast

19177 minsSilent

High winds are not good for airships, especially when moored: this study demonstrates what happens when the winds blow

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Agitated AdvertsAgitated Adverts

Animation & Artists Moving Image191710 minsSilent

Anson Dyer imagines the characters behind newspaper adverts and brings them to life in this Kine Komedy Kartoon

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Drumhead ServiceDrumhead Service

Non-Fiction19170 minsSilent Location: Haringey

A London concert singer attends a military religious service to bless two new ambulance held in a London park.

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British Women's Volunteer Army (Land Workers' Section)British Women's Volunteer Army (Land Workers' Section)

Government sponsored film191714 minsSilent

Film stars Violet Hopson and Ivy Close lend their celebrity to the war effort – and they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty

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Motherhood; A Living Picture of Life TodayMotherhood; A Living Picture of Life Today

191729 minsSilent

"Is this a pudding? It's more like a cannon ball" - Mary struggles to live up to her husband's high expectations

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His Majesty's Visit to His Grand FleetHis Majesty's Visit to His Grand Fleet

Documentary19179 minsSilent

Official film of George V's visit to his Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, Orkney

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The King's Tour Round the Napier Motor WorksThe King's Tour Round the Napier Motor Works

19176 minsSilent

George V checks the new-fangled "aero engines" are up to scratch in a West London factory

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Entertaining Soldiers After the RaidEntertaining Soldiers After the Raid

Non-Fiction19170 minsSilent

Keep calm and carry on - these East End schoolkids dance to lift the spirits of Kiwi troops

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Workers Leaving Kodak FactoryWorkers Leaving Kodak Factory

Non-Fiction19174 minsSilent

Workers at Kodak's photographic factory find themselves on the other side of the camera.

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With the Queen at WoolwichWith the Queen at Woolwich

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent Location: Woolwich

Women workers receive a visit from Queen Mary, as she inspects their work at the munitions factory in Woolwich.

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Great Red Cross Carnival at RushdenGreat Red Cross Carnival at Rushden

Non-Fiction19173 minsSilent Location: Rushden

Flags and patriotism on show in Rushden as local businesses pull out all the stops in this carnival procession.

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British Airships in the EastBritish Airships in the East

Government sponsored film19175 minsSilent

Equipped with two men and a string of bombs, the SS Class Airship was a rapid response to the threat of U-boats

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Pacifists Routed at Brotherhood ChurchPacifists Routed at Brotherhood Church

Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent Location: Dalston

Windows are smashed, doors broken and blows exchanged, as a violent mob attacks a pacifist meeting held inside a Hackney church.

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Parachute Experiments, Pulham Airship StationParachute Experiments, Pulham Airship Station

191714 minsSilent Location: Pulham

Soldiers of the Royal Naval Air Service make a leap of progress as new parachutes are put on trial

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A Bid for FortuneA Bid for Fortune

Drama191784 minsSilent

Master criminal Dr Nikola seeks a Chinese curio that promises eternal life and world domination

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Masks and FacesMasks and Faces

Historical drama191792 minsSilent

A strong cast of British stage luminaries enriches this tale of heartache and betrayal in 18th century London society

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The Missing LinkThe Missing Link

Comedy19172 minsSilent

British comic Lupino Lane stars in this surviving fragment from one of his earliest films, a slapstick school romp

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London: Air Raid, 1917London: Air Raid, 1917

Non-Fiction19174 minsSilent Location: City of London

Twisted metal, jagged wood and piles of rubble: the devastating aftermath of an air raid in London.

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Pimple in the WhipPimple in the Whip

Comedy191722 minsSilent

Hilariously shambolic parody of an equestrian stage smash, by the prolific entertainer Pimple

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Potato and Wheat Culture in EnglandPotato and Wheat Culture in England

19176 minsSilent

Man and horse work the earth to provide produce for the English plate

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With the British Troops in MacedoniaWith the British Troops in Macedonia

Government sponsored film19178 minsSilent

Troops overcome difficult terrain in this news film of the little-known WWI campaign in Macedonia

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East Is EastEast Is East

Drama191771 minsSilent

Charming tale of East End lovers divided by a not so lucky windfall, with beautiful scenes in the Kent hop fields.

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Red Cross FairRed Cross Fair

Non-Fiction191710 minsSilent Location: Bath

The parasols and puppet shows are out in this joyful springtime gala for Bath's Red Cross hospitals

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Sea-Plane Launching ApparatusSea-Plane Launching Apparatus

19172 minsSilent

A new aluminium design for military flying boats.