British writer/director John Boorman ( The Emerald Forest ) draws us into an astonishing and exhilarating portrait of his own childhood, set against the terrors of a London torn apart by the onset of WWII. Seven-year-old Billy Rohan (Sebastian Rice Edwards) finds his childhood to be atime of great dangerand even greater discovery. From thunderous bombings at his own doorstep andthe constant threat of Luftwaffe air raids to the landing of a German paratrooper in his neighborhood and the joyous obliteration of his much-hated school, Billy's young life is shapedand even enrichedby the one positive thing war has brought him: liberation from the ordinary. And though Billy is surrounded by decimation and the smoking remnants of ruined lives, his sense of enchanted wonderment and innocence in the face of man's most destructive folly affect him in a way that alters his life forever.
This winning 1987 epic written and directed by John Boorman (Deliverance
, The General
) serves as a picaresque and semi-autobiographical remembrance of a boy's coming of age during the Second World War. Exhibiting a defiant and humorous take on life during the London blitz, the family of the young boy at the center of the story (Sebastian Rice-Edwards) are a close-knit and resilient bunch, undeterred in the face of the war and revelling in each other's company even as they hide from the incessant bombing. To be sure, there are some poignant moments in this childhood reminiscence, such as when the boy's older sister (Sammi Davis) falls in love with a Canadian, becomes pregnant, and marries him, only to see him taken away by the military police. And the boy's mother (Sarah Miles) serves as a strong influence in the his life as she leads her family through this tumultuous time.
The majestic sweep of the film is contrasted with so many comic moments as the people in town go about the mundane details of their daily lives yet also engage in the most absurd rituals in dealing with the onslaught of German artillery - from taking the air raids for granted to wearing gas masks at school. Boorman doesn't dwell on the horrors of war; instead he celebrates the richness and resilience of the people he remembers so fondly. An adventurous and nostalgic slice of life, Hope and Glory is a superb and memorable film. --Robert Lane