About a girl
About a Girl was directed by Brian Percival, who has since directed 6 different episodes of Downton Abbey and just released his feature film The Book Theif (2013). It was written by Julie Rutterford. She is most famous for her work on Shameless (2004). The DoP was Goeff Boyle, http://www.gboyle.co.uk/aag%20qt.HTM The idea came about when
It was made in 2001 and released on 25 August. It won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film. Then the Edinburgh International Film Festival for Best British Short, it won the London Fillm Festivals’ TCM Classic Shorts Award , and the Raindance Film Festival Jury Prize.
The main actors in About a Girl were Ashley Thewlis, Sue Jaynes and Laren Creek. Ashely Thewlis went on to become a singer-songwriter and joined the pop band Soda Club. Sue Jaynes played the girls mother.
World War One/The Great War
WW1 started in 1914 and ended in 1918. More than 9 million combatants were killed and it was the fifth deadliest conflict in world history.
The immediate trigger for the war was 28th June 1914. This is when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assisnated. He was the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the kingdom of Serbia.
John McCormick was a singer in the first world war, he performed the song “It’s a Long Way to Tripperary” which was written by Jack Judge in 1915. Other songs John McCormick performed were “Keep the Home Fires Burning” “There’s a long long trail” and “Roses of Picardy.” Other famous songs in the first world war period were “Pack All Your Troubles (In Your Old Kit Bag) which was written in 1915 by George Powell.
Films released just after the war were The Service Star directed by Charles Miller, Shoulder Arms directed by Charlie Chaplin, Hearts of the World directed by D.W Griffith, The Heart of Humanity Directed by Allen Holubar, J’accuse directed by Abel Gance and The Lost Battalion directed by Burton L. King.
Anthem For Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
Dulce et Decorum Est
1 Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
2 Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
3 Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
4 And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
5 Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
6 But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
7 Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
8 Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
9 Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
10 Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
11 But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
12 And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
13 Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
14 As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
15 In all my dreams before my helpless sight
16 He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
17 If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
18 Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
19 And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
20 His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
21 If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
22 Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
23 Bitter as the cud
24 Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
25 My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
26 To children ardent for some desperate glory,
27 The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
28 Pro patria mori.
The Wipers Times
It was the brainchild of Captain Fred Roberts and Lieutenant Jack Pearson of 12th Battalion. Amidst the ruins of the heavily shelled city of Ypres (called ‘Wipers’ by the soldiers) they found a damaged but serviceable printing press. One of the pages was an advert to cure optimism.
The Football Game
An interesting event that is famous about WW1 was the football match on Christmas day between Germany and England. They had called a temporary truce, so they could collect their dead when a football was kicked from the british lines into No Man’s Land. They also shook hands and shared cigarettes. The football was played as a way to get past the language barrier and was meant as a light relief from the horrors of war. It showed how both sides felt at the time. Unfortunately this truce didn’t last and the war continued for a further 4 years.
“Raggie” The War Horse
Ragtime was a first world war pony. The story goes from his life as a pony in india to the battlefields of the first world war.
“I have seen much of the world. I have told you of war and of peace: of polo and sport. There does not seem to be much more to relate.”
Excerpt from ‘”Raggie” the War Horse: An Autobiography’ by Guy, Lord Middleton (1931)
It was written by Ragtimes owner, Lord Middleton who was reunited with his horse when there was a lull in the war.
Noel Evans was a soldier who died just as the Armistice was about to be signed on the 11th November 1918.
“It has been the hardest week to bear of my life … It is such hard lines that he should have been taken at the very end of the war.”
Letter from Noel’s father, 15 November 1918
In June 1918 he was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery (RFA). He arrived in France at the end of September and was posted to a battery in the 27th Brigade RFA, the unit in which his brother Morgan also served. Despite the hardships and privations of trench warfare his letters convey a spirit of optimism.
Noel and his comrades were frequently exposed to grave dangers. During his short time at the front Noel survived several near misses before his luck finally ran out. On 4 November 1918, a week before hostilities ended, a shell burst a few yards away from the dugout where he was on duty.
He appeared to be slightly wounded in the left thigh and right heel, and a tiny splinter was pulled out of the back of his head; his thigh seemed to worry him most, but the hit on the head had caused him to go temporarily blind …
Letter to Noel’s parents from his Commanding Officer,
6 December 1918
On hearing of his injuries, Noel’s parents went out to France to visit him in hospital. However, they arrived only to be informed that their son’s wounds had proved fatal and that his funeral was about to take place.
Noel was buried in a cemetery near Rouen along with 30 of his comrades. Against the backdrop of celebrations, his heart-broken family headed back to Britain to mourn.
To think that we shall never see his dear smile again. It’s all been so cruelly hard … all the horrible noise and crowds and rejoicing everywhere day and night, it has been a continuous nightmare and the journey back I thought never would come to an end.
Letter from Noel’s mother, possibly written on 16 November 1918
Going ‘over the top’
I always said a prayer before going over the top. Six times – on six occasions on some bigger attacks and smaller attacks for some reason or other. I always used to stand when we’re all lined up with us rifles and bayonet all fixed for going over with, over with the lads. Our heart would be cursing and there would be all sorts of stuff going up in fright.
But I always used to just stand still for a minute and just say this little prayer. I’ll never forget it. ‘Dear God, I am going into grave danger. Please help me to act like a man and come back safe.’ And that’s what I did. And I went over without fear. That little prayer seemed to save my life because I had no fear left, although there were shells and bullets and all the rest flying when we went over and I were never frightened of being hit. It’s real funny that that prayer put me where I am now. In this chair. And that’s true. And six times I went up and six times I said that little prayer and each time I went up and come back safe. And I thank God for it every time.
After war had finished, we were collecting old rifles and all war stuff. We were set off going across fields, picking up rifles and bombs and anything else to do with war. And two of our lads come across some shells that had had been primed but never fired. And they got all these shells and picked them up. They were coming to the dump, when one of them shells slipped off his arm and hit the striking pin, and the shell exploded. They were both killed. It were terrible, after the war had finished. It were disastrous for they were just doing a duty of cleaning the countryside for the French folk.
The unknown soldier
1. An old women finds an air loom her father gave to her before heading off to war. We see his story, which would be the story of Arthur Barraclough (The Last Tommy)
2. A forgotten photo album, has a picture missing we learn about the person in the missing picture. Bits of the picture are revealed as we learn more. Would be like a Forest Gump story, not necessarily associated with the war.
3. Narrated by a young man, he reads a poem or song from the war. The visuals could be of a modern day situation, so the audience don’t realise the true meaning of the film at first.
4. Opposite to idea above, we see men being mowed down as they cross No Man’s Land, while a young man reads the Wipers Times optimism advert/Singing or speaking the recruitment song. (Your King and Country Need You)
5. The Unknown Soldier, turned into a short film
6. Lice… Animation from the view point of the lice on the home front
7. Bringing a poem to life. Tell it through the visuals, dissect each word (Anthem for Doomed Youth)
8. The Christmas match, a what if story, if the troops refused to carry on fighting. What would happen?
9. A zombie film, the dead start coming back to life…
10. A few young men are sat in a pub called The Last Post. They are making racist comments and talking about how they would love to sign up so they could kill some “Paki’s.”There is an old gentleman in the corner, looking very upset and traumatised, he has a WW1 medal on his coat. (Could then either go into flashbacks from his life in the army or leave it open to interpretation)
11. A film from the viewpoint of Hitler in WW1, the audience don’t realise this until the end. (Hopefully)
After we had all come up with 10 ideas each, we got together to pick our best 10:
1). set slightly in the past to allow time for the veteran to be alive, he still believes in his mind that the War is still on. He ventures out one day with his walking stick in a 20 minutes journey across the park. In his mind theres a battle, a trauma. In the end he dies.
2). A grandson goes up into the loft to clear out his recently deceased grandfather’s processions. He comes across a box fill with letters that have been sent to and for between the grandfather and the grandmother. Archive sounds and visuals appear of the ww1 recordings. The grandson is then left bewildered and lost about what to do with the processions and decides to leave them up in the loft until another day.
3). The Last Post is the name of a pub. A few young men are talking and making racist comments, saying how they want to sign up to shoot “pakis.” An old man sits alone in the corner looking very upset, he has a WW1 medal on his coat. (We could either leave this open to interpretation or do flashbacks of his time in the war)
4). Narrated by a young man, he reads a poem or song from the war. The visuals could be of a modern day situation, so the audience don’t realise the true meaning of the film at first.
5). Young soldier who is suffering the effects of returning from the war in iraq, where he had to kill a man to prevent himself being killed. The reason he went to war was in honour of his granddad.
6). A Mothers agony, as she waves her son off to war, as she relieves the memory of waving her Father off to war, with him never returning.
7). old man is still hearing the sounds of the war today which effects his life (a man returns from the front line but is haunted by the war and still hears all the sounds from the war in everyday life which effects how he goes about his life
8). come across a missing letter that was never sent over (a letter is found possibly in a bottle from a soldier during the war trying to get the message out that the war is bad or possibly to a loved one)
9). man and women madly in love happy with their lives everything is perfect then the man has to go away to war each week he would write to his beloved about the war and how much he misses her then the letters stop… the guy died – TITLE – DEAR DARLING (am listenning to 0lly murs dear darling song.)
10). an underage man signs up for the war, his brother as he thinks it could be fun but is found out whilst in battle)