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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Hope and Glory
Directed by John Boorman
MGM/UA 12/87 DVD/VHS Feature Film
In this autobiographical film set in suburban London during World War II, director John Boorman recaptures the wonders of childhood. For eight-year-old Bill Rohan, the Blitz is one continuous adventure.
After his father enlists, his mother Grace (Sarah Miles) is left with the task of raising three children in the midst of air raids and food shortages. Bill plays with his toy soldiers, collects shrapnel, and joins a marauding gang of boys whose pastime is smashing things up in bombed-out houses.
Sebastian Rice-Edwards's portrayal of Bill is affecting and natural. In one scene he draws lines on his sister's (Sammi Davis) legs to simulate stockings; in another at a movie theatre, he averts his eyes during the love scenes. The boy doesn't know what to make of the women who dominate the world he must grow up in.
In Boorman's scenario, war may disrupt daily routines, but the rituals that give life meaning remain intact: marriage, birth, holiday celebrations. When fire destroys their home after a bombing, the Rohans move in with Grace's parents, and Grandfather (Ian Bannen), a crusty, eccentric old man, becomes Bill's mentor. During a game of cricket, the two drive the war into the background.
The antics of the colorful characters and its fast-paced story line give Hope and Glory all the spontaneity of a child at play. Yet Boorman works from his head as well as from his heart. The result is an energetic, imaginative, and richly human memoir. Hope and Glory was one of the best films of 1987.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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