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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Battle of Ypres


Strike force Entertainment / Cherry Red Records
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: E
Available 08 November 2010

Released in its entirety for the first time ever, The Battle of Ypres is the original 1925 British Instructional Film documentary re-enacting key scenes from the notorious Battle of Ypres in the actual battle trenches. The lengthy campaign was largely a murderous stalemate that perfectly demonstrated the horror and futility of war. A massive 1.7 million soldiers died in the attempt to capture the Belgian town and its environs over the length of a four year campaign, 1914-1918...

The Battle of Ypres reenactment features details of the first, second third and fourth battles of Ypres - as well as covering the key positions of Messines, Hill 60 and the Passchendaele Ridge - the scene of prolonged and terrible carnage over a mere gain of 900 metres of mutilated land.

As a representation of war the Battle Of Ypres was not without its controversy; it arguably distorted the grimmer realities of conflict - the trench foot and the maiming and death by gas- into a noble recount of the superiority of the Allies. But, even in this light, Battle Of Ypres gives us a unique historical reading of one of the longest, closest and bloodiest battles of World War I.

The picture quality ranges from average to poor, but to be honest that's to be expected with a film of this age. It's obviously not financially sensible to spend a small fortune on remastering the original film print. However, a new soundtrack (which includes music and sound effects) has been added.

Extras include Ypres: The Shell Shattered City Of Flanders (1918). This includes footage of the remnants of discernable landmarks amidst the rubbled ruins of Ypres and the ridges to the North and East of the town. Includes the main square and its Cloth Hall, St. Martin's Cathedral, The Church Of Saint Jacques, and troop action at Hellfire Corner and Clapham Junction; and Ypres: Remembrance Day (1922) an historical piece of footage shot in 1922.

From an historical perspective, this DVD is interesting viewing. However you'd be advised to read up on the actual battle to get a better understanding of what's going on before you watch this.


Nick Smithson

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