Archive at the Movies 2022

16th June 2022

IWM 191. Clip from The Battle of the Somme  (1916)

IWM are proud suppliers of archive to feature-length films. Here are some recent highlights. 


A biographical drama written and directed by Terence Davies, Benediction tells the story of English poet, writer and soldier Siegfried Sassoon. The Financial Times says: 'Davies swerves the obvious. He doesn’t mount scenes of muddy actors in a Somme recreated in Home Counties parkland. Instead, real troops haunt spectral archive.' 

A considerable amount of First World war footage was licensed, including this clip from The Battle of the Somme, the first feature-length film to record soldiers in action.

Release date: 20 May 2022 (United Kingdom)
Director: Terence Davies
Production companies: Emu Films; BBC Film; British Film Institute; M.Y.R.A. Entertainment; LipSync; Creative England

The Natural History of Destruction 

Inspired by the book by German writer W.G. Sebald, The Natural History of Destruction makes use of archive footage to re-examine the strategic bombing campaign of Allied forces in Germany during the Second World War. The unsparing attacks were designed to destroy the country’s war capabilities and break the German people’s morale. 

Premiering at the 75th Cannes Film Festival, 20 minutes of footage was supplied from over 18 IWM films.

Release date: May 23, 2022 (France)
Director: Sergey Loznitsa
Production company: LOOKSfilm


After their feature-length documentary Spitfire, David Fairhead and Ant Palmer return with a wartime history of the Lancaster bomber. 

Lancaster tells the story of the iconic Second World War bomber told through the words of the last surviving crew members, re-mastered archive material and aerial footage of the RAF's last airworthy Lancaster.

From the Dambuster raids to the controversial bombing of Dresden, the Lancaster would help turn the tide of war. 

The film features newly digitised IWM archive footage of an RAF Bomber Command Attack on Essen, Germany as well as photographs of the Dambusters crew from the Ministry of Information Second World War Colour Transparency Collection.

Release date: May 27, 2022 (United Kingdom)
Director: David Fairhead and Ant Palmer
Production companies: Haviland Digital, Trevor Beattie Films, British Film Company

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