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The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands on Blu-ray and DVD in January

18 December 2014

The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands, a dramatic reconstruction of two decisive naval battles from the Great War, is one of the finest films of the British silent era. Filmed in 1927 on real battleships supplied by the Admiralty, scenes of naval warfare have rarely been captured with such a degree of authenticity.

The Battle of Coronel, off the coast of Chile, was a triumph for German Admiral von Spee and the first defeat of the British navy for a hundred years. The retaliatory strike was instigated six weeks later by Admiral Fisher, who sent two large battlecruisers, HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, to the South Atlantic to restore British supremacy.

In recreating the dramatic action, no models and no trick photography were employed, although some interiors were recreated in the studio and some animation was featured. 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 has been restored by the BFI National Archive and is presented with a newly commissioned score composed by Simon Dobson and performed by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. Additional special features on this release include short films looking at the creation of the new score and the restoration, and four complementary short films from 1914.

After its premiere at this year’s BFI London Film Festival and a theatrical release, The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands will be released on both Blu-ray and DVD by the BFI on 19th January 2015 at the RRP of £19.99 for either edition.

The special features will be:

  • Scoring The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (2014, 12 mins): a consideration of Simon Dobson’s new musical accompaniment

  • The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands Restoration Demonstration (2014, 6 mins): some of the problems faced by the BFI restoration team

  • BFI London Film Festival Archive Gala Introduction (2014, 3 mins)

  • Sea Dreams (Lancelot Speed, 1914, 6 mins): animation mocking the German Navy

  • Naval Review (Will Barker, 1914, 5 mins): King George V reviews the British fleet at Spithead in July 1914

  • Our Naval Losses (1914, 1 min): moving eulogy to the British ships sunk in the early months of the war

  • England Expects (1914, 1 min): scenes of Trafalgar Day at Nelson’s Column

  • Illustrated booklet with original essays and full credits