I saw this film yesterday. It's been making the art house circuit around the country this summer. It was made in 1975 and won a prize at the Berlin Film Festival that same year. However, it failed to be picked up for distribution in the US. In 2005, it was re-discovered by the programming director of the Telluride Film Festival who helped get it a limited release this summer.
The film is about a teenage Brit during WWII. The film starts with him showing up for basic training during the London Blitz. It ends with him (Tom) dying on the landing craft at Normandy. That's not a spoiler per se because Tom has frequent premonitions and visions of his death. His death is pretty well foreshadowed.
The director scoured the Imperial War Museum for war footage. He then recreated the black & white look to weave the plot into war footage. According to reviews, about 25% of the 90 minute film is war footage. He included some Nazi war footage too.
The plot is spartan or you can use the more impressive sounding term elegiac. You don't see Tom doing much but through conversations, inner dialogue, dreamlike sequences, and what action there is, you get the impression that Tom is a shy boy forced to be a man before he is ready. Tom is not a particularly good soldier. He is shy around girls and is most likely a virgin. He is likeable enough but never forms close relationships with his comrades in arms. Most of the film takes place in the years leading up to D-Day with the final 10 minutes or so set in the landing craft. I think Tom's character was deliberately vague so he could represent the generation of lost Engish youth who died during WWII.
The film has been earning high praise from reviewers but I wasn't quite as enthusiastic. Set in the 1940's, the film has a 1970's feel to it. It feels like a film school project made by a guy with 1970's sensibilities.
One thing that bothered my anal retentive nature was the timeline. If I recall correctly, Tom reports to the Army in 1941 and does not see any combat until June 1944. I find it highly unlikely that the British trained their troops for more than 2.5 years. Tom turns 21 right before D-Day. I assume the Brits drafted men as they turned 18. That matches the story in that Tom reported in 1941.
The main perspective is how one man was part of a huge war machine. When that one man is a small man to start with, his story is lost to history. Even in his death, Tom's army buddies have to leave him behind because they need to wade ashore to get to the Normandy beaches. Tom, a loner in life, remained as such in death.
|This message has been edited by scalias on Oct 9, 2006 5:18 PM|