We are unable to display your institutional affiliation without JavaScript turned on.
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE


Download PDF

Which Battle of the Somme?: War and neutrality in Dutch cinemas, 1914–1918


While the Netherlands tried to maintain neutrality during World War I, the belligerent nations watched the country and its public opinion closely. At the same time, the French, English, and German authorities used propaganda to influence Dutch public opinion. The famous documentary film The Battle of the Somme (1916) is seen as a prime example. Its critical reception in the Netherlands has been studied before, but its challenge to the cause of neutrality has escaped close attention. Not only did Dutch ministers, mayors, film distributors, and cinema owners get involved in the marketing and regulation of war propaganda, but so did the intelligence services and propaganda departments of the warring countries. This article shows that at least three films about the battle of the Somme were shown in Dutch cinemas – French, English, and German – and that all of them were part of a struggle to secure the public's favour.