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Lord Charles Beresford in France

A military legend on location, and some vertiginous thrills from a balloon.

Non-Fiction 1916 6 mins Silent


It might be wartime, but these Allied troops look surprisingly cheerful. But then, this film has been "approved and censored", so perhaps that explains it. Or perhaps it's thanks to the visiting 'Charlie B', a popular former admiral and MP. Later on, an observation balloon - similar to a defensive blimp - is raised, and an intrepid cameraman shoots some terrific landscapes on board.

This wasn't the only report from frontline France with which Charles Urban's name was associated in 1916: the feature-length The Battle of the Somme, which Urban edited, was arguably the filmmaker's finest hour. In these relatively relaxed scenes, though, the conflict seems fairly distant. This silent footage may not have recorded the fanfare of the military band which heralds Beresford's visit, but clearly the presence of this Victorian military hero was a cause for excitement. Even the thrill of the hot air balloon (and the intriguing inflator contraption which goes with it) aren't allowed to overshadow him.