On Monday the 20th of August, gathered in the University Chapel, The Words of WW1 team premiered their ten short films that commemorate the centenary of The Great War. They did this by taking poetry from both sides of the Western Front, some which are seldom heard nowadays, but never the less convey powerful stories from the experiences of soldiers and civilians on either side of the War.
This special tribute was all directed and produced by University of Glasgow students, and were all featured in by professional actors, who took the poetry across the Scottish landscape from parks and lochs, to iconic locations around Glasgow itself. The Words of WW1 team sought to muster up gripping visual experience that exploited the intensive imagery and natural rhythm of the poems. The visual and auditory design of each piece did not just serve to capture the actor and their voice but also accentuate the meaning behind each poem.
Xavier Weiss, Words of WW1 project manager, in a press release had this to say; “Our team is made up from students from across many disciplines within the University of Glasgow. We wanted to try in our own way to capture the experience of First World War soldiers, many of whom were the same age as us, through their most potent means of expression – their poetry.
“That is why the Words of WW1 team has decided to help preserve the voices of Great War poets from all sides of the conflict. Those involved in this project feel passionately that it was important to reconnect with and commemorate the voices of a generation lost to war.
“It was so poignant to be reciting this words in locations in and around Glasgow – it almost seemed to bring their words back to the Home Front.”
The series follows an overarching, chronological theme of the four years of the war with poems transitioning from initial enthusiasm and patriotism descending into the horrors and moral confrontations the war provoked. In a press release regarding the project, the team defends their choice to use poems from both sides of the Great War to demonstrate how similar the experiences were, no matter the nation or background of the soldier.
In attendance at the event was Paul Sweeney, MP for Glasgow North East, and Glasgow University Union FSM, who had this to say about the event; “I commend the work of the students and staff who collaborated across various subject areas to pull this collection of poems about the First World War together and bring them to life in such a creative and engaging way. The chaplaincy at the University has also done great work to support the students in making the short films about the poems. As an Army reservist who has lost a close friend in Afghanistan, the messages of the poetry struck me in a very personal way. The loss felt a century ago is something still faced by our veterans and families today and we must redouble our efforts to ensure we are doing all we can to support them.”
This project comes at a very important time in our collective history. We are entering into an era where there are significantly less people that actually experienced the horrors of the second world war, and none who have an active memory of The Great War. As we move into this period there is a delocalized feel from the effects of war, we forget that the actions we sanction as a country have direct effects on the lives and families of the men and women who serve this country in the armed services, but not only that, we also forget the impact war and military intervention has on the civilian population of other nations. This project not only reminds us of the of the experiences that our military personnel face, but also challenges us to look at it in a broader scale, stepping into the shoes of those on “the other side”.
I strongly urge readers to view some of the material by clicking on the links below, and not also think about it in the sense of commemorating the fallen generation from the first world war, but also in contrast to modern opinion and views towards conflict.
-Owain Campton, Co. Editor-in-Chief