Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 09/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film focuses on an English family which struggles to cope with the Blitz during World War Two. The devastation of attacks on London is brilliantly juxtaposed with the idyllic countryside to which Grace Rohan (Sarah Miles) relocates with her children after her husband Clive (David Hayman) goes off to war. Much of the story is based on director John Boorman's own childhood experiences at a time when there seemed so little reason for hope. "Glory" certainly describes the eventual Allied victory but also the courage of the English people meanwhile and certainly the affirmation of shared values which bound so many families together amidst fear, separation, death, and destruction. Much of the film's focus is on Grace's father (Ian Bannen), a patriarch to be sure and (at times) something of an eccentric, but a loving and decent man nonetheless, struggling to cope with all manner of domestic crises while providing a safe haven for daughters Grace, Faith, Hope, and Charity. He and grandson Billy (Sebastian Rice Edwards) forge a special bond in response to the pastoral "harem" in which they find themselves. This is a charming film but also one which also offers some sobering insights into how disruptive wartime conditions can be, especially to a sensible and sensitive boy such as Billy. His perspective is presumably Boorman's (re-established years later) and done so with style and grace."
Great Film For Practically Anybody
Robert Morris | 06/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of my top 20 all time favorite movies. If you can imagine all the trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows and aches and pains of childhood and then imagine going through WWII at the same time you have some idea of what this movie is about. Told primarily through the eyes of a young boy, this movie shows a very personal experience of what the Home Front was like for London civilians. Neighbors get bombed out, shrapnel lies in the streets, friends die, and life somehow still goes on. The movie does a really good job of showing how the war could be a source of wonder to a child living through it and a cathartic experience for the adults. At the same time it can be incredibly funny and this is really why the film is so good. Probably my favorite scene is when the grandfather sends the young boy fishing with orders not to come back until he has caught some fish. A close second is the german jam scene. If you like period films, you'll love this. If you just like good movies, not too serious or too silly or too sad, give this one a viewing. Also, the punting instructions given in the movie actually work. Soon after watching this film, I ended up in Oxford, England and was able to teach myself to punt in less than an hour just from remembering this movie, so it's also educational!"
War and Remembrance...from a Young Boy's Viewpoint
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 04/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Filmmaker John Boorman's unique memory piece based upon his childhood during WWII London provides plenty of pleasures, chief among them a compelling sense of how a young boy views a war that affects every aspect of his family's life. This is refreshingly not a patriotic history lesson about bravery on the home front but a genuinely evocative, often humorous film full of broad characters and small-scale events that seem to capture perfectly how a nine-year old would remember them. The story focuses on the Rowan family from son Billy's perspective. His father Clive has enlisted but been relegated to typing duties, and his mother Grace is alternately brave, volatile and wistful as she ensures the family keeps bonded during his absences. Billy's older sister Dawn has fallen for a wild-eyed Canadian soldier, while his baby sister Sue watches intently. Meanwhile, Billy joins a local band of young hooligans who rifle through the houses destroyed by the German bombs that pummel them during the London Blitz until one strikes the Rowan house, at which point the family goes to stay in the more pastoral setting of his grandparents' house in the country.
The 1987 film is full of shrewdly observed vignettes, nostalgic but never sentimental and sometimes with a welcome absurdist sense of humor that surprises and delights. I particularly like the almost surreal scene where the deflating dirigible is flailing downward from the sky to the immense entertainment of the locals. The one periodic drawback to the film is Boorman's episodic story structure, which makes the narrative feel linear and lacking in dimension beyond the immediate events portrayed. This becomes more problematic during the later scenes when the pacing slows somewhat with a long cricket-playing sequence between Billy and his grandfather. Nonetheless, what is inarguable is the superb casting, in particular, Sarah Miles as Grace, especially when she grapples with her unresolved feelings for her neighbor Mac; Sammi Davis as Dawn, forever petulant even when she finds herself in an unfortunate predicament; Ian Bannen in full late-period Olivier mode as he steals all his scenes as the blustery grandfather; and in his only film, Sebastian Rice-Edwards who holds the whole film together as Billy. Special credit needs to be given to cinematographer Phillipe Rousselot, who gives the film a sumptuous look even during the bombing sequences. The 2001 DVD contains a fine print transfer but nothing else in terms of extras."
An Anthem to Endurance
Deborah Earle | USA | 02/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Director John Boorman's semi-autobiographical elegy to the Blitz is a poignant, comical, and occasionally hard-core look at the realities of war through the eyes of a young boy. Given the roles of his wife and son in the piece, it's also a rather lovingly crafted family project.
We first meet young Bill Rowan (a rosy-mouthed, freckle-faced imp named Sebastian Rice-Edwards), the son of a closely-knit middle class English family, as he plays in the backyard of his London home on the day war is declared between Germany and Great Britain.
His little sister, Sue (Geraldine Muir, who could definitely pass for the daughter of David Hayman, who plays Bill's father, Clive) pedals about the backyard singing a pop ditty of the day, and his older sister, Dawn (a vivacious and overly-flirtatious Sammi Davis)angrily storms about trying to find her mislaid stockings as the children's careworn parents (including an emotional Sarah Miles as Grace Rowan)listen to a radio report of how their world is about to change.
Oftentimes, with the accompaniment of their friends, Mac and Molly (Derrick O'Connor and Susan Woolridge), we follow the Rowans through the emotional dilemma of whether or not to send Bill and Sue overseas to escape the air raids in those uncertain times, Bill's difficulties with intimidating authority figures(Susan Brown, Gerald James) in school, the disruption of a school day by an air raid, and a German pilot (Charlie Boorman) landing in a victory garden.
Air raids soon hit close to home and, and while Mr. Rowan is away in the Army, his wife and children endure a night of terror as Luftwaffe bombs shatter their windows; the following day, they deal with shattered lives.
In the meantime they find ways to lift their spirits amid strains of Cole Porter, Frederic Chopin, and later, Mozart.
We observe the complexities of the relationships between the adults in Bill's life, the crude realities of gangs among the rubble, and an obscene game involving a neighbor(Sarah Langton), recently left motherless by an air raid.
Soon enough,the reality of how parents lose control of their children in wartime settles in as well, when Dawn begins dating Canadian Corporal Bruce Carrey (Jean-Marc Barr). Reportedly, upon viewing this film, Boorman's sister collapsed and took to her bed for a few days, having seen many antics she thought she'd gotten away with as a teenager portrayed onscreen.
Another major crisis causes the Rowans to seek refuge in the riverside home of Bill's maternal grandparents(the comically exasperated Ian Bannen, and stalwart Annie Leon). Bill's three aunts, Faith, Hope and Charity(Jill Baker, Amelda Brown, and Kathrine Boorman) provide support during this time.
But even as air strikes destroy lives and property, in an ironic twist, they provide the Rowans with an answer to the problem of food shortages, and Bill, in particular, with one of the most joyous moments of his life.
Watch for a scene where Bill observes a film being made in the middle of the road; it is a portrait of a young lad glimpsing his future career.
While certain scenes may make a viewer squeamish, overall, "Hope and Glory" is a poem to hope and family solidarity in the hardest of times.