tWWItter is based on letters written by 26 year old Private David Tindal in France during 1915 and 1916 when he served with the Highland Light Infantry. He was killed by shellfire on 30 June, the day before the 'Big Push' he had been preparing for.
By stripping the letters down to messages of 140 characters or less and treating archive stills and moving pictures to make them look as if shot on a smartphone, the resulting short film is striking and moving.
tWWItter was devised by television producer Mark Gorton who said: “In a way tWWItter was a series of accidents. A friend lent me the letters written by his great uncle and at the time I was thinking about how social media might be used to tell World War One stories. It was also plain that the use of phones and tablets was encouraging the making of content that depends as much on text as imagery, so I condensed the letters into tweets, stills and footage and then, with talented colleagues at Lion Eyes Television in Manchester, assembled them into a straightforward, six minute film.
“There was a fear that what was written so beautifully with pencil on paper and postcard a century ago might clash with a platform as modern and lightweight as twitter, but in fact the film hits home and makes the history of World War One particularly accessible to younger viewers.
“There are liberties taken with history inasmuch as the use of archive material is a ‘best guess’ illustration of events that David recorded in his letters home, so while it is impossible for the film to be 100% factually accurate I like to think it is emotionally true to his experiences. At one point this even includes adding dialogue to film footage where none could have been recorded in a pre-sound world, but thanks to the art of lip-reading we can be confident that what you hear is what was said.”
This year, Imperial War Museums and members of the First World War Centenary Partnership are working together to show the UNESCO listed film The Battle of the Somme, to audiences across the world. Shot and screened in 1916, it was the first feature length documentary about war and changed the way both cinema and film was perceived by the public. In the year of its release around 20 million people, almost half the population of Britain at the time, watched The Battle of the Somme, many hoping to see the image of a loved-one, or friend captured on film.
One hundred years later, this unique film from IWM’s collection, is being shown to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Catch it at FACT on Friday 18 November from 4pm in The Box.