Hope and Glory

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(1987) ★★★★★

Channel4: Sunday 14 June, 11.25pm

John Boorman’s joyful recreation of his boyhood in the Blitz, the grim realities of war barely breaking through the sheer wonderment of a child’s selective memories. To nine-year-old Sebastian Rice-Edwards, wartime suburban London is a playground full of burned-out houses and rubble heaps with nightly displays of fireworks. Fanciful, maybe, but the boy’s zest for life is hard to resist and the family portraits are arresting. Dad David Hayman’s off to war, mum Sarah Miles is seeing a lot of his best friend, and big sister Sammi Davis is running round with randy GIs. Rounding out a memorable collection of characters, Ian Bannen is the boy’s grandfather. (The downed Luftwaffe pilot is Boorman’s son, Charley.) Like John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, Hope and Glory is a reverie about hard times. Beautifully observed and wonderfully warm, it was voted one of the BFI’s top 100 British films. In a rather poignant quote last year, the 82-year-old Boorman said: “The one thing I always regretted about Hope and Glory is that it was based on my childhood memories, and now I have lost all those memories and can only remember the film.” It’s certainly not the only unforgettable film Boorman has directed: Point Blank and Deliverance are his masterpieces, Excalibur and The Emerald Forest are exceptional, so too Beyond Rangoon, The General and The Tailor of Panama. Boorman’s new film Queen and Country, which he acknowledges may very well be his last, is a Hope and Glory sequel of sorts, moving on from the Blitz to national service in the 1950s. The reviews have been mixed but everyone’s in agreement on one thing: John Boorman is a national treasure.

Certificate: 15
Duration: 108min