Monday, May 28, 2012
"Went the Day Well" (1942)
The sleepy English village of Bramley End has the unfortunate distinction to be the headquarters selected for a German invasion of Great Britain. German soldiers posing as their British counterparts arrive and begin to scout out the town and settle themselves into every house in town as billets. The villagers have no idea their world is about to be turned upside down. What follows is a brutal lesson on the horrors of war brought to the home front. With no hope of outside help, the villagers alone must take on the Germans and win or die trying.
Movies over Matter who made a post about the movie. I’m always up for a WWII propaganda film so I decided to watch this one and I am so happy I did! In my opinion this is a forgotten gem of a film. Set in flashback, we see a man speaking in a churchyard after the war and telling the viewer the tale of when Bramley End was invaded by Germans. The film was only made in 1942 though so it’s predicting a future possibility of what the world would be like. The outcome is essentially part of the propaganda for moral on the home front.
The best aspect of the movie was when the Director Cavalcanti played a stick and carrot game with the audience. We’re shown one opportunity after another that the villagers create to get word out about the Nazis and every single one is taken away from them and us, the audience. Every time I held my breath and hoped that this they would stop the Nazis. No one in this film is safe, just as in war and that's what makes the film so exciting.
Movies over Matter mentions that the US would never have been able to make a propaganda movie like this and they’re right. I don’t think American audiences would have been able to stomach some of the things on screen. I believe this is because in most areas of the US, the war felt so far away. They were essentially removed from the theatres of war. This is only because of the physical distance between the home front and the war front though. Invasion was a real issue for Britain, as they only separated from the rest of Europe by the English Channel. In fact, the Channel Islands, part of the British Commonwealth, were actually occupied during the war.
Usually in war movies, all the audience sees are brave soldiers taking on the enemy. In this film we get to see civilians in action. This always seems more brave to me. They usually have little to no training and if anyone knows how to fire a gun it’s usually because they hunt small game like rabbit. Usually no one has ever killed another human being or looked death in the face before. In this situation they have to put all of that aside and reach deep inside themselves and find the courage to defend their homes, their neighbours and themselves. In fact, I was more proud of their actions than I would have been if they had been soldiers. Class divide is extremely apparent in the movie but is a transparent barrier that has little to no affect on the film. Everyone is united in their efforts to purge Bramley End of the enemy. As well, I was very pleased to see how active women were in this movie. They took part in the action, voiced their opinion to help and instead of being left behind as you would normally expect of a movie like this, they were encouraged to go along.
I loved this movie. It’s a forgotten little gem and was a joy to watch. I would highly recommend it!