July 9, 2018  (Web Review)

Hope and Glory

Olive, 113 min., PG-13, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

John Boorman’s semi-autobiographical 1987 film presents life in WWII-era London during the Blitz as experienced by a schoolboy. Bill Rohan (Sebastian Rice Edwards) is Boorman’s stand in, a playful child who roams through the ruins to collect shrapnel and find treasures amidst the debris of wrecked houses. With his father (David Hayman) serving as a clerk and his mother (Sarah Miles) overwhelmed by the upheaval caused by the war, he’s left to his own devices—until his home is destroyed and the family relocates to live with Bill’s grandparents, taking them from the chaotic city to the rural idyll of a country home on a small river island. Neither a heavy drama about the costs of war nor a patriotic story of strength in the face of adversity, Hope and Glory is about wartime seen through the eyes of children: excitedly identifying planes flying over houses, thrilled to see an enemy bomber shot down in their own neighborhood, and playing their own version of war games inspired by the movies. Bill doesn’t really understand what his mother, who married for security rather than love, is going through, or the sexual awakening of his older sister (Sammi Davis), who is in a hot and heavy affair with a Canadian soldier (Jean-Marc Barr), but he witnesses it all. Boorman recreates the period in exacting detail and presents the story through the warm glow of memory of an innocent time. A lovely, sweet, and gentle period piece, this was a popular and critical hit in England and was nominated for five Oscars. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)