Free ticket giveaway for restored British silent film classic “The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands”

Coronel and Falklands still courtesy BFI

The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth has announced a free ticket giveaway to see a screening, on December 10th in the auditorium at Action Stations, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard of British silent film classic “The Battles of Coronel and the Falkland Islands”

The screening, which starts at 7.30pm features an exclusive, live introduction from the British Film Institute Curator Bryony Dixon who led the film’s restoration to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Joining her is National Museum of the Royal Navy’s Strategic Development Executive, historian and author Nick Hewitt, who has recently returned from the centenary commemorations in Chile.

“The Battles of Coronel and the Falkland Islands” (1927), a Walter Summers film, is a thrilling reconstruction of two decisive naval battles from the early stages of the First World War.

The Battle of Coronel, off the coast of Chile, was the first defeat of the Royal  Navy for a hundred years and a triumph for German Admiral von Spee. The retaliatory strike was instigated six weeks later – on December 8th -   by ace British tactician Admiral Fisher who sent two new battle cruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, to the South Atlantic to restore British supremacy.

Bryony Dixon explains: “Summers’ film was originally released on Armistice Day to act as a memorial to the thousands who died. Filmed on real warships supplied by the Admiralty, this monumental production was shot mostly at sea near Malta, with the Scilly Isles a convincing stand-in for the Falklands. It is an astonishingly effective piece of filmmaking, which glories, like Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, in the power and beauty of the machine. Scrupulously fair in its treatment of the enemy, this stirring film is presented with a newly commissioned score composed by Simon Dobson.”

Naval historian and author Nick Hewitt: “In the end, the Royal Navy defeated von Spee’s outnumbered squadron and maintained control of the distant oceans, allowing British trade to continue unmolested. The outcome was perhaps inevitable. But nevertheless, Coronel remains a very visible stain on the Royal Navy’s otherwise distinguished record of victory during the First World War, and a reminder that the world’s most powerful and successful naval service was not wholly prepared in August 1914.

 Tickets are available for free online  on a first come first served basis. 

Nelson's funeral barge

The funeral barge used to transport Nelson’s body down the Thames is preserved at the NMRN.