Hope and Glory

More about the Film


Background to the Film

A semi-autobiographical project by acclaimed British director John Boorman, Hope and Glory tells the story of a nine year old boy called Bill as he grows up in London during the Blitz of World War II. For a young boy, this time in history was more of an adventure, a total upheaval of order, restrictions and discipline. Seen through his eyes, the fireworks provided by the Blitz every night are as exciting as they are terrifying. As the bombing continues, his family's will to survive brings them closer together.

During this period, Bill learns about sex, death, love, hypocrisy, and the faults of adults as he prowls the ruins of bombed houses on Rosehill Avenue. His father is off chasing patriotic dreams of glory from behind a military clerk's typewriter; his mother can't cope; his teenage sister runs wild; and Bill's life is about to change forever.

Film Review

John Boorman's intensely personal account of the bombardment of London during World War II has the warm burnish of nostalgia. Lovingly detailed, the movie tells the ostensibly horrific story of the blitz from the perspective of a nine year old boy.

Boorman packs his movie with moments of surreal and comic audacity, finding unlikely humour and wonder in the unrelenting German bombardment. This off-kilter conception of war, remarkably free of mayhem and grief, drew criticism from some quarters for what was perceived as a perverse indifference to tragedy. Such charges of insensitivity seemed to neglect Boorman's capacity for feeling. Tempering the movie's skewed comic vision is a humanistic generosity. The tumult of the war is not given short shrift: through Billy's uncomprehending and largely unsympathetic gaze, we see the blitz test familial unity and individual resolve alike.

Never cloying, the movie has a perfectly calibrated mood, finding a delicate balance between unrestrained emotion and blithe stoicism. Though its use of the child's-eye-view to see war from a perspective of innocence is a familiar trope, Boorman's film has its own distinctive voice. Its approach is wry, wistful, and ultimately highly engaging.

 

Hope and Glory Poster

Hope and Glory Cinema Poster

Film Awards

Hope and Glory won 5 international awards, and was nominated for 23, including 5 Oscars. The film won a BAFTA Award for Susan Wooldridge as Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Among others, it won the US Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. It also won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Film.


Film Cast
Sebastian Rice-Edwards Bill Rohan
David Hayman Clive Rohan
Sarah Miles Grace Rohan
Derrick O'Connor Mac
Susan Wooldridge Molly
Sammi Davis Dawn Rohan
Ian Bannen George
Jean-Marc Barr Cpl. Bruce Carey
Anne Leon Bill's Grandmother


Film Credits

Directed by John Boorman
Produced by John Boorman, Michael Dryhurst
Written by John Boorman
Music by Peter Martin
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Editing by Ian Crafford
Studio Goldcrest Films, Nelson Entertainment
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
UK Release date Hope and Glory was premiered in London on 3rd September 1987
Running time 113 minutes

Film Locations

Croydon, London

Middlesex

Surrey

Sussex

Wisley Airfield, Wisley, Surrey
(Street where main characters lived)


John Boorman

John Boorman was born on 18th January 1933 in Shepperton, Surrey, the son of Ivy and George Boorman. He has directed a total of 22 movies

He first began working as a journalist in the late 1950s, and then moved into TV documentary filmmaking, eventually becoming the head of the BBC's Bristol-based Documentary Unit in 1962.

Capturing the interest of producer David Deutsch, he was offered the chance to direct a film aimed at repeating the success of A Hard Day's Night, directed by Richard Lester in 1964. Catch Us If You Can (1965) is about competing pop group Dave Clark Five. While not as successful commercially as Lester's film, it smoothed Boorman's way into the film industry. He was drawn to Hollywood for the opportunity to make larger-scale cinema, and, in Point Blank (1967), a powerful interpretation of a Richard Stark novel, brought a stranger's vision to the decaying fortress of Alcatraz and the proto-hippy world of San Francisco. Lee Marvin gave the then-unknown director his full support, telling MGM he deferred all his approvals on the project to Boorman.

After Point Blank, Boorman teamed up again with Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune for Hell in the Pacific (1968), which tells a fable story of two representative soldiers stranded together on an island.

Returning to the UK, he made Leo The Last (US/UK, 1970). This film exhibited the influence of Federico Fellin, starred Fellini regular Marcello Mastroianni, and won Boorman a Best Director award at Cannes.

 

John Boorman

John Boorman at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, 24 September 2006

He achieved much greater resonance with Deliverance (US, 1972, adapted from a novel by James Dickey), the odyssey of city people played by Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty as they trespass into Appalachian backwoods and discover their inner savagery. This film became Boorman's first true box office success, earning him several award nominations.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Boorman was planning to film The Lord of the Rings and corresponded about his plans with the author, J. R. R. Tolkien. Ultimately the production proved too costly, though some elements and themes can be seen in Excalibur (see below).

A wide variety of films followed: Zardoz (1973), starring Sean Connery, was a post-apocalyptic science fiction piece, set in the 24th century. According to the director's film commentary, the 'Zardoz world' was on a collision course with an "effete" eternal society, which it accomplished, and in the story must reconcile with a more natural human nature.

Boorman was selected as director for Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), but the resultant film was widely ridiculed and regarded by many as a total failure.

Excalibur (UK, 1981), a long held dream project of Boorman's, is well-remembered as a mythical film and one of the very few 'true' retellings of the Arthurian legend and tragedy. Boorman cast actors Nicol Williamson and (now Dame) Helen Mirren in spite of their protests, as the two disliked each other intensely, but Boorman felt their mutual antagonism would enhance their characterisations of the characters they were playing. The production was based in the Republic of Ireland where Boorman had relocated. For the film he employed all of his children as actors and crew, and several of Boorman's later films have been 'family business' productions.

Hope and Glory (1987, UK) is his most autobiographical movie to date, a part retelling of his childhood in London during The Blitz. Produced by Goldcrest Films with Hollywood financing, the film proved a Box Office hit in the US, receiving numerous Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations.

In contrast, his 1990 US-produced comedy about a dysfunctional family, Where the Heart Is, was a major flop.

The Emerald Forest (1985) saw Boorman cast his actor son Charley Boorman as an eco-warrior, in a rainforest adventure that included commercially-required elements — action and near-nudity — with authentic anthropological detail. Rospo Pallenberg's original screenplay was adapted into a book of the same name by award winning author Robert Holdstock.

When his friend David Lean died in 1991, Boorman was announced to be taking over direction of Lean's long planned adaptation of Nostromo, though the production collapsed. Beyond Rangoon (US, 1995) and The Tailor of Panama (US/Ireland, 2000) both explore unique worlds with alien characters stranded and desperate in them.

Boorman won the Best Director Award at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival for The General, his black-and-white biopic of Martin Cahill. The film is about the somewhat glamorous, yet mysterious, criminal in Dublin who was killed, apparently by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

In 2004, Boorman was made a Fellow of BAFTA

Released in 2006, The Tiger's Tail was a thriller set against the tableau of early 21st century capitalism in Ireland. At the same time, Boorman began work on a long-time pet project of his, a fictional account of the life of Roman Emperor Hadrian (entitled Memoirs of Hadrian), written in the form of a letter from a dying Hadrian to his successor. In the meantime, a re-make/re-interpretation of the classic The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz with Boorman at the helm was announced in August 2009, and in production in 2010.

Filmography

Catch Us If You Can 1965
Point Blank 1967
Hell in the Pacific 1968
Leo the Last 1970
Deliverance 1972
Zardoz 1973
Exorcist II: The Heretic 1977
Excalibur 1981
The Emerald Forest 1985
Hope and Glory 1987
Where the Heart Is 1990
I Dreamt I Woke Up 1991
Two Nudes Bathing 1995
Beyond Rangoon 1995
The General 1998
Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait 1998
The Tailor of Panama 2001
In My Country (based on the book Country of My Skull) 2005
The Tiger's Tail 2006
By Any Means 1 2008
Memoirs of Hadrian 2010 (in pre-production)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 2010 (in production)