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Broken in the Wars (1918)


Main image of Broken in the Wars (1918)
35mm, black and white, silent, 400 feet
DirectorCecil M. Hepworth
Production CompanyHepworth Manufacturing Company

Cast: Henry Edwards (Joe or Bill (Uncredited)); Chrissie White (the wife); Alma Taylor (Lady Dorothea Hamlyn); Gerald Ames, John MacAndrews (customers); John Hodge (himself)

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Public information film informing audiences of the loan scheme for discharged soldiers, introduced by John Hodges MP, Minister of Pensions.

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John Hodge, a Labour Member of Parliament and trade unionist interested in welfare, had joined the Lloyd George coalition in 1916, becoming Minister of Pensions in 1917. He helped promote a scheme for disabled soldiers - The King's Fund for Disabled Officers and Men. The fund hoped to raise £3,000,000 to help wounded army veterans who were finding it increasingly difficult to find work. In the film, the wounded veteran used to be a cobbler and needs help in setting up his own cobbling business once the war is over. His wife approaches the local 'Lady of the Manor' for help; she suggests they meet up with Hodge who happens to be visiting. Hodge explains the scheme to the husband and wife, assuring them that it is not charity, but "...mere gratitude of old fogies for the men who have given everything for us."

While at face value this may be seen as a charity appeal film, or at least a publicity film for veterans to approach the fund, there is an underlying political message. Most of the film is told in a fictional framework. A series of vignettes roughly establishes the characters. However, during the discussion with the wife and the cobbler, Hodge directs his comments to the camera, removing him from the fictional framework to relay information - that the scheme is not a charity. The most important comment, though, concerns the duty of the state. The wife asks if the state should provide the funding, to which Hodge replies that it is not the duty of the state to find capital to start people in business (presumably, even if those people have been injured in protecting the state).

Simon Baker

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Video Clips
Complete film (7:59)
Edwards, Henry (1883-1952)
Hepworth, Cecil (1874-1953)
Taylor, Alma (1895-1974)
Politics and Film 1903-1935