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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 11.76%
Average: 11.76%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 5.88%

1 review, 11 user ratings

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Hope and Glory
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by Slyder

"Best film of 1987? Damn right it is"
5 stars

1987 was a tough year at the Oscars, especially for the Best Picture category: we had Bernardo Bertolucci taking us to pre-WWII China in the epic The Last Emperor; we had James L. Brooks and his usual cast of asshole characters sparkling up a love triangle with an underhanded critique of the news business in Broadcast News; we had Michael Douglas reaping a lot more than what he “sowed” into Glenn Close’s muff in Fatal Attraction (and I don’t mean babies); and we also had Nicholas Cage going after his brother’s soon-to-be-wife Cher in Moonstruck. And although The Last Emperor cleaned house and won Best Picture in the end, one always has to wonder about the ability of the Oscars to score a rightly winner. Opinions may go around and this is one of them since I side with a tale about a 7-year-old boy and his coming-of-age experiences during the beginning of WWII in London, England.

Hope and Glory for me was the best film of 1987, because it’s simply a unique tail of living during wartime told from a child’s point of view. Steven Spielberg tried the same thing with Empire of the Sun with mixed results, but Hope and Glory takes the cake with huge pluses depicting the war with a sense of bemusement, excitement and adventure in a social environment turned upside down. Writer/Director/Producer John Boorman, who based the film in his own autobiographical experiences, has been a filmmaker with an erratic career, capable of delivering such horrible stinkers (Leo the Last, Exorcist II, Where the Heart Is), exceptionally great flicks (Excalibur, The General, The Emerald Forest), and absolute masterpieces (Point Blank, Deliverance, and this gem), and this is arguably his finest film to date as well as his most personal.

Through the eyes of seven year old Bill Rohan (Sebastian Rice-Edwards) we enter the world as he saw it when England declared war on Germany in 1939 and we see how his family as well as his neighborhood is affected by it. His father Clive (David Hayman) who was a former soldier in WWI enlists again only to have a desk job in the end, his mother Grace (Sarah Miles looking very hot for a middle-age woman) takes on the tough task of looking after Bill and the youngest daughter Sue (Geraldine Muir), while the eldest daughter Dawn (Sammi Davis) starts her sexual awakening which would lead her to fall in love with Bruce (Jean-Marc Barr), a Canadian soldier stationed in London.

As the bombs begin to fall at the beginning of the infamous London Blitz, the film starts to map out Bill’s point of view of the war: going to the theater to see only the mere excitement battles of the war, hiding with his mom and two sisters in the shelter from the bombs, hating more his teachers rather than the Nazis since they pummel him and his fellow lads with anti-German propaganda and reciting math times tables with gas masks on, collecting shrapnel which is at times hot due to the recent use, and joining on a neighborhood child gang in order to escape the overwhelming female predominance at home and in the neighborhood. But as these scenarios start to pan out with remarkably spontaneous fashion, we see them with a sense of innocence, not necessarily laughing at the horrors of war but simply being in some sort of awe, a neutral fascination of seeing things but not understanding why they happen and in the process not knowing why do adults react to these things so feverishly and at times absurdly, all with an amusing, intriguing and at times picaresque sense of humor and adventure. At one point Bill tells his younger sister Sue about the surrounding adults: “Don’t worry; we’re not going to be like them when we grow up. We’re not like them now.” It develops a uniquely contrasting point to the folly of war and its depressing and horrific nature and its effects on family life.

A couple of memorable standouts come to mind like the “dogfight scene” in which the family witness an air battle (possibly the Battle of Britain) and in the process a German Messerschmitt is shot down by a British Spitfire while the German pilot parachutes to safety and lands in a victory garden right in Bill’s neighborhood; the aforementioned “school bomb drill” scene; the “German jam” scene which depicts the absurd paranoia over anything German; the scene in which Grace and Dawn fighting and making up sobbingly over Dawn’s newfound love which leads to an interesting subplot over Grace’s feelings about Clive and his best friend Mac (Derrick O’Connor) who used to be Grace’s lost love. Possibly the finest moments are approaching the third act of the film in which Grandpa George (Ian Bannen kicking ass all around), who is Grace’s father, makes his appearance. Grandpa George is colorful addition to the film since he’s disappointed at how his life has come about (having four daughters Grace, Hope, Faith, and Charity, all named after the virtues he lacks) as well as the world around him (“a curse upon you Volt, Amp and Watt"). But once he and Bill make the connection, the film’s message reaches its zenith.

The production values are great, with the film beautifully shot by Frenchman Philippe Rousselot with grey-tinted nostalgic colors, exceptionally directed and superbly acted, especially by Bannen, Miles, Davis and young Rice-Edwards. A special highlight is on young Geraldine Muir, whose comment on sex will make you laugh pretty hard.

In the end, this film is just kick-ass fun. Although not exactly a war drama, Hope and Glory is a nostalgic wake-up call into reaching back and recovering the humor and the glory of those glory days of civilization which were lost during the two great wars as well as a fascinating depiction of life in an inconvenient yet extraordinary time that once immersed in you just simply don’t want it to end; a true masterpiece that everyone must see. 5-5

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originally posted: 02/17/05 08:29:33
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User Comments

9/22/11 Jeff Wilder Great portrsyal of war from a child's perspective. 4 stars
12/17/10 Tero Great movie all around. Had to do it for a Social project, now I've fallen in love haha 5 stars
10/24/10 Joacim Nilsson Pretty average 3 stars
3/07/07 David Pollastrini a great film. funny and touching! 5 stars
1/15/07 Michael Shields Watching this film is akin to discovering a cinematic time capsule. The period detail 5 stars
6/05/06 Aimee This film was really enjoyable and entertaining to watch. It was realistic and informative. 4 stars
2/22/05 Debora Browning Great Movie 5 stars
2/19/05 Denise Duspiva okay 3 stars
12/15/02 Charles Tatum John BoreMe 1 stars
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  09-Oct-1987 (PG-13)



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