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The First World War

From the home front to the front line: life during the “war to end all wars” as seen through the lens of newsreel, propaganda and drama.

Films made and shown in Britain between 1914 and 1918 reflect the scale and horror of the unfolding conflict across multiple theatres of war, but also capture a nation trying to get on with everyday life. Filmmakers shot everything from local events and celebrations to short comedies that provided a much-needed dose of light relief in difficult times. Insights into the changing role of women in wartime and Britain's reliance on colonial troops can also be found.

After WWI, Armistice Day and Remembrance ceremonies were often caught on film, while British cinema produced epic dramas addressing the experiences of the Great War into the 1920s and beyond.

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Battle Front in BritainBattle Front in Britain

Documentary191824 minsSilent

Growing potatoes in Green Park plus some handy uses for your old tin cans – it’s all part of the war effort on the home front.

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The Austrian TragedyThe Austrian Tragedy

Non-Fiction19142 minsSilent

A muted newsreel tribute to Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand - victim of an assassin's bullet in an event that would soon take Europe to war.

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Bully BoyBully Boy

Animation & Artists Moving Image19146 minsSilent

Lightning sketch propaganda stirs outrage about Reims bombing, and features a British bulldog eating the German sausage

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The Warrior StrainThe Warrior Strain

War192052 minsSilent

Young Lord Billy sniffs out sneaky German marauders in this flag-waving war drama - thrills for British boys, 1919-style.

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Funeral at the FrontFuneral at the Front

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent

Sombre and moving World War I newsreel story.

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Christmas at the FrontChristmas at the Front

Non-Fiction19141 minsSilent

Poignant scenes of Allied troops enjoying their Yuletide rations at the first Christmas of WWI.

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Nurse and MartyrNurse and Martyr

Biopic191511 minsSilent

The moving true story of wartime heroine Nurse Edith Cavell, recreated in the aftermath of her execution.

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"Stop the War" Demonstration in Trafalgar Square"Stop the War" Demonstration in Trafalgar Square

Non-Fiction19140 minsSilent Location: Westminster

The crowds gather in Trafalgar Square to join a rally for peace - two days before Britain declares war on Germany

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Anti-German Riots in Liverpool following the Loss of 'Lusitania'Anti-German Riots in Liverpool following the Loss of 'Lusitania'

Non-Fiction19152 minsSilent

Newsreel footage captures the aftermath of riots in Liverpool following the sinking of Cunard liner 'the Lusy' during WWI.

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For the WoundedFor the Wounded

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent

'Our Day' charity fundraising badges are pinned to the coats of two black soldiers during WWI.

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War Time WeddingsWar Time Weddings

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent Location: Westminster

The daughter of famed actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree gets hitched to a military Captain during WWI.

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Ramsgate Zeppelin Raid. Showing Damage Done to the Bull and George Hotel.Ramsgate Zeppelin Raid. Showing Damage Done to the Bull and George Hotel.

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent Location: Ramsgate

Public anxiety about war from the air is all too real for the people of Ramsgate in this newsreel footage of the aftermath of a Zeppelin raid.

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Outposts of EmpireOutposts of Empire

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent

British troops try to coax and cajole their pack animals on to a military supply train, but they're stubborn as mules...

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From Trinidad to Serve the EmpireFrom Trinidad to Serve the Empire

Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: London

Colonial recruits from Trinidad meet the Lord Mayor of London during WWI

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Shower Baths in the TrenchesShower Baths in the Trenches

Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent

A humble scrub is all it takes to get these French troops in a lather.

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Keep the Home Fires BurningKeep the Home Fires Burning

War191616 minsSilent

Two sisters love the same man - one marries him, but the effects of WWI complicate their relationship

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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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Deliverance of Lille by Haig's MenDeliverance of Lille by Haig's Men

Non-Fiction19182 minsSilent

Bashful British soldiers are mobbed by French citizens after Lille is freed from the Germans in WWI.

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Australian Troops at the PyramidsAustralian Troops at the Pyramids

Non-Fiction19181 minsSilent

Shades of epic cinema as soldiers roam around the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza

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Rescue Work in No Man's LandRescue Work in No Man's Land

Non-Fiction19181 minsSilent

The heroic dogs trained to aid wounded WWI soldiers caught between the lines.

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The SommeThe Somme

War1927109 minsSilent Location: Hounslow

Dramatic reconstruction of the Somme

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ArmisticeArmistice

Musical192916 mins

Take your seat for an Armistice concert by military bands playing a medley of songs commonly sung during WWI.

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Hedd WynHedd Wyn

War1992115 mins Location: Trawsfynydd

The stirring story of poet Ellis Evans-Hedd Wyn, the Welsh poet posthumously awarded the Eisteddfod chair at Birkenhead in 1917 after failing to return from 1st World War trenches.

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Poppies of FlandersPoppies of Flanders

Non-Fiction19281 minsSilent Location: Richmond

A one-armed soldier is among those shown diligently manufacturing poppies on the 10th anniversary of Armistice Day at a factory in Richmond.

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Cinema of WWI
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Cinema of WWI

A young film industry just settling into its own home - the cinema - found itself enlisted to record, report and dramatise a war unlike any other.

Remembrance
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Remembrance

The First World War dead were commemorated as they fell. That act of remembrance has never ceased. For the survivors, it invokes a range of emotions, not least pride, sorrow and anger.

The Sinking of RMS Lusitania
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The Sinking of RMS Lusitania

Remembering one of Britain's worst maritime disasters and a pivotal moment of World War One.

1914 on Film
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1914 on Film

What did our forebears watch a century ago? Discover the cinema of 1914 in this very mixed programme from the year the world changed.

1915 on Film
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1915 on Film

As a nation steeled itself for a long war, cinemas offered desperately wanted information - and welcome distraction. Find out what Britain watched a century ago.

1916 on Film
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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.

1917 on Film
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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.

1918 on Film
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1918 on Film

The final year of the war was a tough one for British film, but the industry did its patriotic best.