Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Very Long Engagement

No photo for this post because the only photos I find are from the DVD of this French movie which I saw today and they are the very romantic opening shot of the lovers in bed. it's modest enough and, of course, as the title suggests, this might be called a romance. But it's not -- or wasn't to me. It was about French soldiers in World War I. The romance was a girl who refused to believe her young lover was dead and indeed finally, after well over two hours of movie, finds him in a psychiatric hospital with amnesia. Half the movie, I think, takes place on battle fields. All war is hell but WWI was especially brutal and certainly seems so in this movie. The movie was artistically done mostly in tones of sepia with a lot of black and white for the battle scenes -- the blending of colors -- some full color scenes after the war too -- was so well done it was never jarring.

I might not have gone if I had realized that there would be so many battle field scenes and that the story was a fairly simple, but relentless, search for information. I've just been reading a couple of blogs that remarked on Veteran's Day and also on the numbers of people killed just in WWII without adding the millions from WWI ... and then the world had all those other wars -- I should make that a present tense. For we HAVE indeed wars at this very minute with people dying.

I met with a couple of writers this noon, one of whom is a German woman who was, as teen, a prisoner of war when the Russians advanced toward Berlin at the end of WWII, taking over her home in Pomerania. Her experiences are something no Americans had to endure. To hear her continual terror that she would be raped is only a small part of the story. The movie had none of the usual glorification of heroic figures in most such movies and listening to this writer's experiences and her struggles to tell her story in a clear and direct way, no heroics although, indeed, she was very brave, carry me into a world I feel I need to recognize but am grateful I have never experienced.



June -- thanks for the review on "A Very Long Engagement." I noticed the movie on Netflix and was uncertain about the war content -- I have trouble watching war scenes even though I know they are not the real thing. Your conversation with the war victim must have been very difficult emotionally -- listening to hear her horrendous story. -- barbara

June Calender said...

I have been hearing the woman's story in tiny chunks and she writes it without undue drama. The hardest thing for me is convincing her she is writing well because she is so uncertain.