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MGM Studios DVD presents
Hope And Glory (1987)

"Go if you want to, what does it matter. We may all be dead tomorrow."
- Grace Rowan (Sarah Miles)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: June 26, 2001

Stars: Sebastian Rice-Edwards, Geraldine Muir, Sarah Miles, David Hayman
Other Stars: Sammi Davis, Derrick O'Connor, Susan Wooldridge, Jean-Marc Barr, Ian Bannen, Annie Leon, Jill Baker, Amelda Brown, Katrine Boorman, Colin Higgins, Charley Boorman
Director: John Boorman

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (Brief nudity, mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:52m:27s
Release Date: June 05, 2001
UPC: 027616862792
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+B-A- D+

DVD Review

As a longtime fan of many of writer/director/producer John Boorman's films, it somewhat surprised me that I had never seen Hope And Glory, a film probably closest to his personal memories, with the exception of elements in The General (1998). Having yet to discover what would turn out to be another wonderful film experience (though some do argue that my pet project Zardoz is anything but pleasurable), Hope And Glory proves to be a film that should be far more accessible than some of his earlier works, which include Deliverance (1972), Excalibur (1981) and The Emerald Forest (1985), to name a few.

"They think they can come here and steal our women? Isn't that your sister, Rowan?" - Roger (Nicky Taylor)

In this semi-autobiographical tale, Boorman exposes the world through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy as Britain finds itself declaring war on Germany in 1939. Bill Rowen (Sebastian Rice-Edwards in his only film role) lives with his parents and two sisters (Geraldine Muir and Sammi Davis of Ken Russell's Lair Of The White Worm) in London, when Churchill's announcement that a state of war has been declared sets in motion events that will shape the boy's future. His father Clive (David Hayman), a veteran of World War I, enlists to join the fight against fascism erupting in Europe, leaving his mother, Grace (Sarah Miles), to tend to his family's upbringing. Her first thought is to send the children off to Australia, where thousands of others are seeking refuge from the threat of air attacks in their homeland. With its air of excitement, young Bill is extremely upset that he will miss the war completely, and at the last moment his mother changes her mind, keeping the kids at home with her in London. After a first few uneventful days at war, life in the community takes on a new reality as the blitzkrieg begins, and the nightly bombings send residents to their backyard shelters, as neighboring houses are reduced to rubble by the Luftwaffe. By day, the neighborhood boys play amongst the bombed-out buildings, having fun collecting shrapnel and smashing the remnants of former houses. As the adults try to come to terms and lead as normal a life as possible, the children also adapt to the situation. While each day brings tales of more destruction and death, there are moments of joy amid this strange new world they find themselves in. As the war takes its toll on the relationships within the family, we see glimpses of the pressures endured during this time, and the often humorous ways people coped.

Boorman handles the subject matter, derived from his own memoirs, with an expert's hand, carefully bringing the innocent views of a young boy to the screen with sensitivity and humor. An unreal world of bombed-out houses fill the landscape as his central character and those around him try to maintain a normal life, amid an extremely abnormal situation. His cast excels, though the standout in my eye is Geraldine Muir as Bill's younger sister, who delivers a performance that far outreaches her age. There are numerous standout sections of the film: Bill's initiation in the local boy's gang, his little sister's observations on lovemaking, the fishing experience, and many more slices of life that make this a title that could certainly be revisited often.

Knowing audiences will also acknowledge the reference to Merlin early in the film, a character found in more than one Boorman creation. Also true to style is the family element, Boorman's son Charley (who starred in The Emerald Forest) makes a cameo as a Luftwaffe pilot who parachutes into the neighborhood, and his daughter Katrine (Excalibur) plays Grace Rowen's sister, Charity.

As only Boorman's second film to gain recognition from the Academy with five Oscar€® nominations (including best picture, director, cinematography, set decoration and screenplay), accolades and honors for Hope And Glory were widespread, with a Golden Globe for Best Picture, thirteen BAFTAs and top honors from Boston and Los Angeles Societies of Film Critics, as well as the British Society of Cinematographers. This is clearly a masterwork, and one that should be seen by all audiences. I can't believe it has taken me this long for to discover it.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: MGM presents Hope And Glory in a nonanamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio, which leaves me fairly confused, since they have generally only been neglecting anamorphic treatment on 1.66:1 titles. The trailer on the disc is 1.66:1, so it appears that not only did they neglect an anamorphic transfer, but they cropped the image as well.

The image is clean, with nothing in the way of defects standing out. Colors are purposefully warm, and look well-rendered, with good black levels. Aside from being incorrectly framed, the only other negative is the inherent softness of a nonanamorphic transfer, which also exhibits visible line structure when zoomed in for viewing on a widescreen TV. Had this been anamorphic, I feel this could have been an outstanding transfer, and as is still gets good marks for presentation, though the cropping knocks off a full grade.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The English mono audio track suits the film perfectly, and is delivered with no obvious deficiencies. Frequency and dynamic range are excellent, with no sign of hiss or distortion present. A French track is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The film's theatrical trailer is included in nonanamorphic 1.66:1. The score obfuscates much of the dialogue here.

While the film presentation is acceptable despite the lack of an anamorphic transfer, the real disappointment is in the absolute lack of extras. Where director John Boorman has lent inciteful and interesting commentary to both Deliverance and Zardoz, it is a let down not to have his commentary on a film that should have much personal reflection attached to it. It would surprise me a great deal if Boorman did not want to be involved in this project, being one of two films to gain him high accolades from almost every industry awards body, however this is the second MGM release of a Boorman film (the first being The Emerald Forest) that does not have any extra materials from the director.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Hope And Glory is easily John Boorman's greatest accomplishment, and as such deserved more respectful treatment than it received here. The framing of the film is inexcusable and the nonanamorphic transfer, while quite good, would have benefited from the increased resolution. Also, the lack of significant extras is a disappointment here. A testament to his childhood, and a sensitive recreation of the attitudes and lifestyle during "the blitz," Boorman's Hope And Glory gets a hearty recommendation from this reviewer.

 


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