During the silent era of cinema, ships were one of the most photographed vehicles — battleships especially, given how majestic they appeared on film.
To celebrate this, Portsmouth indie filmhouse No. 6 Cinema are hosting a two-day mini season of silent films centred within the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where the cinema is based.
The mini season is organised in collaboration with South West Silents, and comprises a truly classic title from the era plus two largely forgotten British-produced silent films.
All the films will be accompanied by either a recorded score or live music.
Friday 28th September, 7:00pm
Declared the greatest film of all time at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair and one of only two films to have appeared on all of Sight & Sound’s critics’ polls (1952 — 2002), Battleship Potemkin has also been widely censored, as much out of fear of the perceived influence of its ideas as for any contentious material on screen.
In essence, it tells a five-part story of a naval mutiny leading to full-blown revolution, but while this material could be crudely propagandist in other hands, Eisenstein uses images of such dynamic compositional strength and editing of such frame-perfect precision that it’s hard not to be swept along, regardless of personal politics. Despite endless quotation and parody, the set-piece massacre on the Odessa Steps still packs a sledgehammer punch.
Saturday 29th September, 4:15pm
April 23rd 1918 saw one of the most daring and heroic raids of the First World War with the British Royal Navy attempting to block the Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge, a key U-boat and light shipping base for the Imperial German Navy.
Based on the raid, Woolfe and Bramble’s much forgotten gem is a film that recreates the famous heroic attack at Zeebrugge with a mixture of drama and authentic First World War film material including captured German film as well as the most advance special effects of the time.
Live music will be provided by Stephen Horne and Martin Pyne.
Saturday 29th September, 7:00pm
Rarely seen since its original release, Maurice Elvey’s masterpiece on the life and career of Admiral Nelson was a major passion project for Britain’s most prolific film director. Written by Alfred Hitchcock’s scriptwriter Eliot Stannard and made with the support of the Admiralty at a time when the Navy needed to recruit.
The film transforms Nelson into an action packed hero for the British audiences of World World One, celebrating his heroic status and recreating famous moments in British Naval history. Elvey’s action packed film is very much an education as well as entertainment with stunning cinematography and razor sharp action sequences mixed with model shots and animation.
Part of the film was shot on HMS Victory, making NELSON the only feature film ever made on the Royal Navy’s most famous ship. Live music will be provided by Stephen Horne and Martin Pyne.