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The Battle of the Somme Film

This year, Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Scottish Borders Archive and Local History Centre, The Heritage Hub, are working together to show the UNESCO listed film The Battle of the Somme, to audiences in Hawick. 

Shot and screened in 1916, it was the first feature length documentary about war and changed the way both cinema and film was perceived by the public. In the year of its release around 20 million people, almost half the population of Britain at the time, watched The Battle of the Somme many hoping to see the image of a loved-one, or friend captured on film. 

One hundred years later, this unique film from IWM’s collection, is being shown to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The 1 hour 17 minutes silent film will be accompanied by Laura Rossi’s score, commissioned to mark the 90th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme. The re-mastered film was screened for the 90th anniversary of the Battle to a full house at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the premiere of Laura’s orchestral score, performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra and received a 5 star review in The Times.

Archive Manager Paul Brough says “Even in “A War to End All Wars” the Battle of the Somme commands attention; epitomising the failure to learn which characterises the first half of the First World War. Though the Somme was not a key fact of the Scottish Borders’ war experience we believe that this viewing film from 1916 is essential to a proper understanding of the Conflict.”

Screenings will take place at the Heritage Hub, Heart of Hawick, on Friday 8th July from 7pm and on Saturday 9th July from 2.30pm. There will also be an opportunity to view an exhibition created by Gateways to the First World War entitled Cinema during the First World War, which will run from 8th-29th July.

The Heritage Hub, along with Scottish Borders Museum and Library Services, are currently engaged in a two year project, Saving and Sharing Scottish Borders Stories of World War One, which will provide a unique and lasting commemorative record of the First World War and its legacy for the Borders. The project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Armed Forces Covenant, aims to digitally preserve material relating to individual experiences of WWI. There will be a selection of Scottish Borders stories on display at the event and the project welcomes any further contributions of material from the public.

These screenings are free but space is limited. To book your place, or for more information about the Saving and Sharing project, please contact the Heritage Hub on 01450 360699 or at: archives@scotborders.gov.uk