The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927) – Dir. Walter Summers QFT 16th Nov
Who’s in it? Roger Maxwell, Craighall Sherry
What’s it about? To commemorate the Centenary of World War I the British Film Institute’s National Archive re-releases this restoration of one British Silent era cinema’s most enduring accomplishments, a fascinating and moving reconstruction of two pivotal naval battles from 1914, the battle of Coronel and the Battle of the Falkland Islands, vividly and faithfully recreated 13 years after the event when the human cost of the conflict was still keenly felt in Britain and beyond. With a new score commissioned for commemorative release by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, this film is a vitally important record of one the defining events of the Great War and essential viewing for anyone interested in war history as well as a timely opportunity to continue to remember the fallen.
Memorable Moments? An especially stirring sequence depicts one of the great ships returning fire during a battle at sea. While the huge guns explode into action, black smoke billows across the deck as the battle cruiser plows through the crashing waves. I defy anyone to spot the archive footage from the recreated scenes. The re-enactment was so convincing, in fact, that apparently even the Germans gave it a thumbs up!
Look Who’s Talking: ‘In Summers’s hands, these twinned battles become not a revenge story, but a hymn to Navy values under pressure. As an opening title card sets out, this is the tale of “a victory, and a defeat as glorious as a victory”. – The Guardian
Like that? Try this: Saving Private Ryan (1998) is another realistic war film to have its action sequences validated by the soldiers who lived through them.
Trivia Pursuit: The film’s director was a World War One hero and the Royal Navy lent him ships and real sailors to help recreate the battle scenes as realistically as possible.