Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Filming Field Marshal von Mackensen (1916)

Nelson Edwards, circa 1914. Copied from the Baltimore Sun, 1944

In March 1916, Field Marshal August von Mackensen visited the Turkish capital Constantinopel. Von Mackensen was sent from Berlin as Kaiser Wilhelm's emissary to pay his regards to the Turkish Sultan and strenghten the military alliance with the Ottoman Empire. Mackensen - one of the best field commanders of the German army during the First World War - was filmed during this occasion. The historic footage is from the German Federal Archives and was probably taken by American cinematographer Nelson E. Edwards.

European Film Gateway

The film report was uploaded by the German Federal Archives to the webportal European Film Gateway in November 2014, as part of a program to digitize contemporary films of the Great War by all of the major European film archives. The film was exhibited in 1916 in German movie theaters as part of the weekly Messter newsreel. The cinematographer however probably wasn't German, but he was an American newsreel cameraman, Nelson Edwards.

Field Marshal von Mackensen, inspecting Turkish soldiers. Scene from Messter Woche newsreel (1916)

Edwards' experiences as a film cameraman in Europe have been described in more detail in our book American Cinematographers in the Great War. He was sent to Turkey by the Germans in early 1916 to publicize the recent defeat of Serbia by the Central Powers, as well as the resulting celebration of German-Turkish amity. Edwards filmed von Mackensen on his arrival in Constantinopel and covered his visit to Turkey closely. Edwards was quite taken with von Mackensen, a man he described as "a fierce, swift fighter, a brilliant strategist, a doer always of the unexpected."

The scenes that were shot by Edwards were shown in the Hearst newsreels in the United States in June 1916. On his return to Germany Edwards agreed to let Messter Woche newsreel use his footage by a letter dated 20 April 1916. And so these scenes were also exhibited in Germany, which explains how we found his film report of von Mackensen's visit in a contemporary German newsreel by Messter.

We have uploaded this film report from the Messter newsreel on our YouTube channel.


No comments:

Post a Comment