This film is part of Free

Broken in the Wars

Film pioneer Cecil Hepworth raises awareness of a royal fund to support servicemen wounded in WWI

War 1918 8 mins Silent



British film pioneer Cecil Hepworth raises your awareness with this ultra-intriguing short - an early hybrid of drama-doc, public information film and promo for a good cause. It publicises the King’s Fund for Disabled Officers and Men, raising £3m to support the war wounded: sort of a social enterprise, helping them to help themselves. It’s interesting from both a political and a film technique point of view.

This early in the game, it was already clear to filmmakers that some situations call for documentary authenticity, others for the emotional power of drama - and many, like this one, for a mix of the two. Amid a cast of actors - familiar faces to cinemagoers - pensions minister John Hodge (a right-wing Labour MP turned ultra-patriotic wartime coalition minister) appears as himself, at times facing the camera to address the audience directly. He speaks both to the men who might benefit from approaching the scheme and the public who might dig into their pockets to support it. Hodge, and the film, make clear that that this is a job for charity, not government. A full-fledged welfare state was still decades away.