Apologies, again, for the lack of regular posts; the truth is I'm suffering from depression. I'm not sure when normal service will be resumed. Sooner rather than later, I hope. This post was originally composed at the end of October.
On Thursday the bf and I went up to town to participate in the London Film Festival - he went to a lunch time showing of 'Why be Good?', (while I went up to Soho), and in the evening we both attended a gala showing of 'The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands' that took place in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. This screening marked the restoration of the film by the BFI National Archive. Quite an event, then. And one that did not disappoint. A new score had been written by the young composer, Simon Dobson, and was performed on the night by twenty four musicians from the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.
The film tells the story of two naval engagements between the German and British fleets in the southern oceans in late 1914. In the first, the Battle of Coronel, a German naval squadron under Admiral von Spree inflicted the first naval defeat on the British since, I think, the Napoleonic Wars. Thereby marking the end of the British century. The film gave a sense of the national response to the defeat; the avenging victory off the Falklands Islands being depicted as a collective effort by the British people. In some ways it is hard to criticize films of this date because we are now so used to a much faster visual culture than existed then; to anyone brought up in this culture some scenes tend to lack drive. However this film does possess a monumental quality at times simply because of that different, slower, visual culture.
The score was truly wonderful - brooding Shostakovian, intense, dramatic. The film seemed to herald a number of aspects of British film making: the realist, the documentary, the 'collectivist' War film, even the sort of working class chit chat you find in Coward, and perhaps is even there in Shakespeare. I cannot recommend strongly enough how rewarding it is to see a film like this with a live score. Make every effort to do so. You will be amply rewarded.
The DVD comes out in January 2015
'The Battle of Coronel and Falkland Islands'
Producer H Bruce Woolfe
Director Walter Summer