A film set in the past is designed to create the illusion that events within the frame are realistic shots of what life was like during the period. For students of history, it is important to learn to ask questions about such film texts in order to work out if they are reliable historical sources.
The patriotic call to arms by the Sergeant Major in the chapter 'Twenty eight minutes past one' and the description of life in the trenches later on in the novel are vividly shown in the film and based on well researched information about this period.
- Look closely at some of these propaganda posters. How would you describe the message of these posters and how authentically do you think this message is represented in the novel and (if you have seen it) the film?
- Look closely at these stills from the film portraying trench warfare in the image gallery opposite. The fact that these stills are in colour will make them look different from original archive photographs from the period. The National Archives holds a wide range of original documents from this period including photographs of soldiers in the trenches and battle reports.
- Take a closer look at some of this source material then with a partner discuss how the images from the film reflect some of the details included in the primary sources.
- After you have compared these stills with the original source material, try to prepare a short presentation about life in the trenches during the First World War. You can use the still images in your presentation.