Friday, July 17, 2009
An affectionate reverie about war, childhood, and British stoicism, John Boorman's Hope and Glory is the veteran filmmaker's recollection of the bombing of London during World War II. Set on the British home front during the early days of the war, this episodic movie shows the blitz through the eyes of seven-year-old Billy Rohan (Sebastian Rice Edwards). At the war's outset, Billy finds himself alone in a house full of women, as all the men are called off to join the war effort. With wide-eyed wonder and an outsized imagination, Billy sees the war as a grand diversion, an extension of his world of knights, tin soldiers, and war games. As bombs fall and houses burn, Billy's mother (Sarah Miles) struggles to keep the family together in her husband's absence. Even as Billy seeks to escape the harem of aunts and sisters, Dawn (Sammi Davis), his older sister, falls for a Canadian soldier who gets her pregnant. After the Rohans' home catches fire (not, ironically, as the result of a bomb blast, but from a domestic accident), the family is forced to move in with Billy's cantankerous grandfather in the countryside, where they spend the rest of their summer and enjoy an unusual idyll amid the raging war. Nominated in 1987 for a Best Picture Academy Award, Hope and Glory proved to be another high point in the career of the remarkably protean Boorman.
Empire of the Sun is a 1987 coming of age war film based on J. G. Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Steven Spielberg directed the film, which stars Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and Nigel Havers. Empire of the Sun tells the story of Jamie "Jim" Graham, a young boy who goes from living in a wealthy British family in Shanghai, to becoming a prisoner of war in Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center, a Japanese internment camp, during World War II.
Harold Becker and David Lean were originally to direct before Spielberg came on board. Spielberg was attracted to directing Empire of the Sun because of a personal connection to Lean's films and World War II topics. He considers Empire of the Sun to be his most profound work on "the loss of innocence". While Ballard's novel had heroism as a theme, Spielberg once again created a film that dealt with children being separated from their parents.