“The Lost Battle” Documentary – the meaning of re-enacting history

Filmed on location at the 950th-anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings on October 16, 2016, the six-minute short documentary ‘The Lost Battle’ attempts to both mimic and raise criticism of simulations or re-enactments in televised documentaries such as BBC’s “The Normans” series.

Avoiding the talking head interview or the participative narrator, ‘The Lost Battle’ is more of a reflective questioning; what does it mean to re-enact history? By deliberately avoiding any attempts to represent historical ‘truth’, the film attempts to reveal other ‘truths’ within the re-enactment itself.

Created for submission to the University of Sussex as part of the MA Digital Documentary, ‘The Lost Battle’ depicts a ‘tribal’ ritual that rather than honoring the fallen as in other cultures, is perhaps representative of a collective search for lost identity. What does it mean to discover oneself or one’s affiliation to a group when achieved through simulated violence?

The filmmakers do not attempt to reach any hard and fast answers but hope to provoke thought and discussion around issues of representation and how our interpretation of historical events has formed part of who we are as a nation, a society, a group of people.

With no budget and filmed entirely on DSLR and handheld camcorder, ‘The Lost Battle’ is remarkably cinematic in approach and style and an epic 2-minute battle scene even evokes the likes of Gladiator and Braveheart; “We hoped to call into question the glorified representation of war in mainstream ‘Hollywood’ fiction film by appropriating its very tropes and blur the distinctions of documentary and fiction film” says Matt Gibson.

Written by Matt Gibson
Narrated by Lee Murray
Produced and Directed by Matt Gibson & Lee Murray
Cinematography by Matt Gibson & Lee Murray
Edited by Matt Gibson & Lee Murray