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The Somme: From Defeat to Victory (2006)

A recounting of the bloodiest single battle of World War One in its various aspects.



1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Peter Barich ...
Darren Black ...
Maxwell's ADC
Lt-Gen. Morland
Ben Goddard ...
Lt. Walton
Chris Hannon ...
General von Plessen
Rüdiger Kuhlbrodt ...
General von Soden
Thorston Manderlay ...
Christopher Nabb ...
Crispin Redman ...
Lt-Col. Maxwell
Mike Rogers ...
Captain Tweed
Benedict Sandiford ...
Captain Johnston


Based on diaries, records and eyewitness accounts, this is the story of the two Battles of the Somme from the perspective of British and German soldiers. It shows how the major lessons learned by the British Army leadership after the disastrous first attacks of July 1916 were turned into victory at the second attempt in September 1916, arguably the turning point for the First World War. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

2 July 2006 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

1916, l'enfer de la Somme  »

Filming Locations:


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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

Overall A Good Documentary That Perhaps Could Have Been Better
18 July 2013 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

History is a very strange thing . What was once considered true may no longer be perceived to be true a few years later down the line . I remember the 1980s and 1990s when commemorations were dedicated to the second world war where leading German figures would constantly and consistently apologise for the Nazis which they didn't and perhaps shouldn't have to . Now however with cultural changes there is an element in Germany that they too feel themselves to be portrayed as victims of Nazism . Instead of Nazi aggression being portrayed on screen there seems to be an emphasis on the last year of the war in Germany where the regime started weeding out " traitors and defeatists " to the regime

This revisionary view of history is universal . Here in Britain there's a train of thought that the worst generals Britain had were all confined to the first world war . Hardly surprising since Britain lost 800,000 people in four years of war compared to half that number in 1939-45 and that these lives were wasted for absolutely nothing by arrogant ruling class men who didn't have a clue what they were doing . This documentary tries to put a different spin on things and dispel the myths put forward in the 1960s by Alan Clark and John Laffin who had their own agenda in creating myths

When you're using unimaginable figures of slaughter it helps if you show the human face of war . We're introduced to the young men who did the fighting and dying . It also makes the point that in the first half of the war Britain was something of a junior partner in relation to the French and the French were fighting for their very survival at the Battle Of Verdun and the British had to relieve the hellish pressure on their ally by launching an offensive at the Somme What this documentary does is put things in to perspective and blow away a few myths constantly repeated over the last forty years . It was the first large scale offensive by the British with the view of comprehensively defeating Germany . Maverick officers who could think outside the box and use their own intuitive like Lt Col Maxwell would be promoted and useless Generals like Morland stuck miles behind the front unable to contribute to events as they happened would be quietly moved on to other duties by the high command . It also makes the point that being a senior officer didn't make you exempt from being killed in action

The docudrama makes all these points but to be honest it does do them well but could have made the points even better . A large scale battle like this would be difficult to put in to practice . If things start to go wrong - which they did - there's no contingency plans except to perhaps call off the offensive which considering the stakes wouldn't have been an option . This isn't necessarily " inflexibility " that this docudrama criticices the high commend for . To deviate from a plan which on paper did in theory have a very high chance of success would have probably doomed the offense to failure anyway . Certainly Haigh and the high commend could have changed the plan earlier rather than committing to it during the entire Summer but this they did in September which whilst not being more successful was certainly less unsuccessful and was a brutal and bloody learning curve for the British Army fighting a war of such violent intensity that Britain had never seen before or since . Perhaps the greatest British General of the 20th Century Edmund Allenby who in the Palestine campaign of 1917-18 who introduced mobile war similar to the Blitzkrieg strategy of twenty years later had no success on the Western Front when he was in command of the British Third Army . Seeing men being slaughtered in their tens of thousands isn't something unique to the British

Lastly the documentary does touch upon the lessons learned at the Somme and introduced new tactics such as the creeping artillery barrage and does make the point that it is a very intricate and complicated form of tactic but shows the British could learn from their mistakes . Sadly the point that these lessons learned that led to the allied victory during the 100 days offensive in 1918 where the British Army killed and captured more German troops than the armies of France , Belguim and America combined goes with little or no mention

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