The Somme - Channel 4, Monday

Watching channel 4 last night and saw an advert for a drama on Monday about the Somme. Looks like it could be pretty hard hitting and there wasn't an American in sight so it might be worth a watch...


Book Reviewer
Just a quick reminder about this programme tonight.

Docu-drama using contemporary letters, journals and diaries.

On at 2100
Am watching now. A good attempt to bring the thing to life ruined by it's adherence to the myths of the sixties.
Personally not Overly impressed with the program to be honest,It didn't seem to do justice to many of the harrowing accounts which I have read.
I posted this before on the 1st july on a the somme thread, it comes from the first few chapters of Lyn Macdonalds 'Somme'

As they neared the wood, between the roar of the explosions, behind the sickening gas-soaked mist, in the forefront of the noise that raged at them from every horizon, the small party of the West Yorkshire's became aware of another sound. It was like nothing they had ever heard before. Later - and for the rest of his life - Lieutenant Hornshaw was to remember it as a sound that chilled the blood: a nerve scraping noise like 'enourmous wet fingers screeching across an enormous pane of glass'. It was coming from the wounded, lying out in no man's Land. Some screaming, some muttering, some weeping with fear, some calling for help. shouting in delirium, groaning with pain the sounds of their distress had synthesized into one unearthly wail.
As midnight passed and the night of the first day of July turned towards the dawn of the second, as the gunfire died down, it seemed to fill the air.All along the front from the orchards of Gommecourt to the heights of Beaumont Hamel, from the shoulders of Thiepval to the valley beyond la Boisselle, it rose from the battlefield into the night like the keening of a thousand banshees.
Truly disturbing

Plus the chap carrying a Lee Enfield No 4 which stuck out like bulldogs whatsits.
mushroom said:
Am watching now. A good attempt to bring the thing to life ruined by it's adherence to the myths of the sixties.
Agreed. It was well produced, but sadly predictable, and an almost criminal waste of an opportunity.

I thought at first that the focus on Rawlinson was a good sign, until the only mention of Haig was a request to send in the cavalry. By halfway through it became obvious that it wasn't going to finish with the slightly important little fact that the Battle of the Somme was the muddy grave of the German field army, a battering from which it never recovered, preferring instead to focus on how the survivors became lifelong socialists. The French were held up as the experts who got it all right, while failing to mention that our fatal zero hour of 7.30 instead of first light was chosen solely because of French pressure.

Probably would have helped if they had employed historians.
too tamed for tv, not much about the hardships faced by the troops in the trenches, more interested in highlighting flaws in the plan. Was hoping for more.
What can I say?

I taped the whole programme but, so far, I haven’t had time to watch it all but from what I’ve seen it was an opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to the fallen. It was an opportunity that was not fully realised which is rather sad, given the timing.

The voice over was provided by some very PC sounding actress, in a very typical tone; the achingly sympathetic, patronising ‘we understand your agony so well’, voice, throbbing with anguish at the suffering of the poor, dull, bovinely patient uneducated soldiery, waiting to be sent to the slaughter by the wicked, militaristic, inept Imperialist General Rawlinson… That was the impression that came over to me.

So, what else? Well, at first I thought things weren’t going to be too bad. The costume and property department seem to have played a blinder; most of the uniforms and personal equipment looked pretty good to me, even down to hobnails on the boots in some shots; not a DMS or Combat High in sight. General Rawlinson’s wrist watch cover and the Frenchman’s field telephone appeared to be spot on for the period; perhaps a few helmet covers might have helped.

Sadly, as some have already mentioned, it was the weaponry that let things down. The sight of No.4s, in full view, was an appalling blunder. Nothing resembling the No.4 appears until 1924, with the Experimental No.1 Mk VI and the ‘A’ Pattern of the same mark in 1926 and the first No.4 trials rifles didn’t appear until 1931.

I have no problem, in trying to re-create a scene, with having later marks of equipment ‘packing out’ the background and keeping the authentic stuff in main camera shot; there were enough SMLEs in view to achieve this. An awful lot of Greener GPs padded out the background in ‘Zulu’, if you look hard enough.

In these circumstances I find it difficult to apportion blame for this. Someone, presumably the armourer, went to a great deal of trouble to set up a lot of No.4s with extensions to take the SMLE’s long, characteristic Pattern 1907 bayonet. Great for the long shots and filling in the background. Presumably the armourer had some knowledge of the history involved but, failing this; the Military Advisor should have been on the ball.

So, if these guys were doing their job, who shoved their oar in and fouled things up? Probably the AD, the Assistant Director saw these odd looking rifles and a little lamp went on over his head, saying,
‘These look sexy and different, let’s have a few scattered about in the crowd. I’m the AD, to f*ck with what these guys say!’
It happens!

The other thing is for the Foley Artists involved to take note of. Foley Artists are the so-called sound experts, who dub on the sound effects afterwards. Usually they are pretty clever and go to a great deal of trouble to get things right but this time they have been led astray and the culprit is Steven Spielberg!

Strictly speaking it isn’t his fault but ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Band of Brothers’ were made by him and so he must have approved the sound track…

You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?
Two otherwise excellent films were spoiled because of ‘Crack and Thump’ or rather the lack of it!

High velocity rifle and machinegun bullets do NOT go ‘WHUT-WHUT!’ when they fly past your ear’ole, they feckin’ well go ‘CRACK!’

In 'Saving Private Ryan' the sense of menace and helplessness on the Omaha beach scene would have been heightened immeasurably if there had been an unending, whiplash series of ‘CRACK-CRACK-CRACK!’, instead of the anaemic ‘WHUT-CLANGs’ that we got in the end!

It is, without a doubt, a singularly unpleasant noise guaranteed to cause heads to draw in like a tortoise's and **** sphincters to contract and expand at a rapid rate. A trip down to Bisley and a session in the butts, where they can hear bullets pass a couple of feet above their heads, will educate the Foley Artists on that score.

That’s about enough to be going on with, when I’ve seen the whole thing I’ll edit this and finish it off but time is short.

Similar threads

Latest Threads