The horror of the Somme on film and set to music

The First World War is coming to St Mary in the Castle in Hastings.

Friday, 31st March 2017, 3:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:31 pm
The Battle of Somme. Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum SUS-170331-153134001

The 1916 film The Battle of the Somme is an incredible documentary record of one of the major battles of the First World War.

It was the first feature-length documentary of combat and was recorded by two people, one of which, Geoffrey Malins, was born and spent his early working years, in Hastings.

The Battle of the Somme is often associated with the needless loss of young men and is one of the bloodiest battles in the history of Britain.

Lasting 141 days, over 400,000 casualties were suffered while only being able to push forward six miles. Despite the devastating losses, the battle was ultimately a strategic victory, having broken the German trench lines and returning to mobile warfare.

The film captures all the drama, emotion and heartbreak of the event and is being shown in good condition, at full length and brought to life by a full orchestral accompaniment. The film was digitally restored by Imperial War Museums in 2005 and alongside a new score by film composer Laura Rossi, this masterful piece of film can be enjoyed the way it is supposed to be.

The pictures will be screened alongside the Hastings Sinfonia, the local orchestra that has a reputation for stunning performances of well-known classical music and opera favourites as well as exciting modern melodies.

The Sinfonia perform several times a year with outstanding soloists bringing passion to their concerts. The conductor, Derek Carden has appeared through the UK, Europe and the US and has featured with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in recent years. The artistic director, Polo Piatti is an award-winning composer and pianist. He is the founder of the Hastings Sinfonia and has recently completed several major compositions including Bohemian Piano Concerto and he is currently working on his first opera.

As part of the Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour, the Orchestra will be playing live at a screening at 3pm on Sunday 21 May. This event will also include guest speakers Laura Rossi, the composer and Dr Toby Haggith, senior curator of the Imperial War Museums. The whole event should be an enlightening experience and a great chance to learn something new.

Tickets: £12.50 adults and £8.50 under 18s.

By James Gray