The Battles Of Coronel And Falkland Islands, film review: Restored war film is a revelation

(PG) Walter Summers, 105 mins Starring: Roger Maxwell, Craighall Sherry
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The Independent Culture

This recently restored 1920s British war film is a revelation – a silent movie that, for all its jingoism, is shot and edited on a scale and with an ingenuity that invokes memories of the great Soviet silent movies.

It's a story of two naval battles. The Brits take a drubbing at Coronel at the hands of the wily Admiral Graf von Spee in November 1914 but rush to build two new battle cruisers in order to have a chance of avenging their defeat.

The director Walter Summers stages the battles with tremendous formal skill. Whether sailors breaking up the chaplain's piano when they need extra fuel to stoke the ship's engines or the womenfolk providing elderly Falkland islander Home Guard types with rifles or a dog being rescued after the battle, he has an eye for the telling detail that reveals the pathos and desperation of his characters.

Simon Dobson's rousing new score, performed by the Band of her Majesty's Royal Marines, heightens the drama yet further.