THE pioneering film made in 1916 about the Battle of the Somme is lined up for four more showings in Worcester, two of which will be accompanied by talks by war historians.

Filmed by J.B. McDowell and Geoffrey Malins, the movie was edited by Malins and an American showman Charles Urban. It quickly became a sensation being shown in more than two thousand cinemas in the UK alone. It was one of the most popular British films ever made and marked the birth of a new art form: the feature documentary.

It is being re-released to mark the centenary of the First World War battle and will be shown at The Hive in Worcester at noon on Saturday, July 9, 3pm on Wednesday, July 13, 7pm on Thursday, July 14 and noon on Saturday July 16.

The July 14 performance will feature be accompanied with a talk by Michael Stedman called “Success on the Somme”, which traces some of the story through from the opening day to the battles through to its conclusion. Stedman is an author and historian of the Great War. He was born in Salford and his first book, The Salford Pals, was published 25 years ago. Since then he has written numerous books and articles on the history of the 1914-18 war as well as working with the BBC on many programmes relating to this period. He was the historian for the Thiepval Visitor Centre adjacent to the Memorial to the Missing where this year’s Somme 100th Anniversary commemorations were held.

The July 15 showing will include a talk by Paul Elliott . This will introduce The Battle of the Somme film and looks at its place as an early documentary. It explores how the film was received at the time and at how it was shaped and influenced by film techniques developed in Hollywood and mainstream cinema. This talk also considers such notions as truth and reality in relation to non-narrative film and looks at how definitions of documentary have changed since the early twentieth century. Paul Elliott holds a PhD from the University of Essex and lectures at the University of Worcester. He has written on the British war film and is currently writing a book on this documentary.