Hope and Glory (1987)

Drawing on his own memories, writer-director John Boorman shows us a suburban family’s experience of World War II through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy.

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“Boorman has written a childhood autobiography on film. Hope and Glory confirms Boorman as the great risk-taking romantic of British cinema.”
Charles Barr, Monthly Film Bulletin, 1987

Considering John Boorman’s prior record as a maker of violent, semi-mythical action pictures – Point Blank (1967), Deliverance (1972), Excalibur (1981) – his child’s-eye view of one family’s war in the suburbs of London paints an unexpectedly warm and rosy picture. Bombs may fall, the neighbours may die, but the Rowan family – including mum Sarah Miles, dad David Hayman and scenery-chewing grandfather Ian Bannen – sticks together through thick and thin, while nine-year-old Bill (Sebastian Rice-Edwards) has the time of his life on the adventure playground of the bomb sites.

Shot largely on a huge, specially constructed suburban-street set, Hope and Glory blends domestic drama with occasional flashes of surrealism, such as the runaway barrage balloon that swoops over the chimney pots.

Made the same year, Empire of the Sun presents a comparable but very different account of an English boy’s wartime experience, this time in occupied China.

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