Christmas Movies I

film 6 of 16

Children From Overseas

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 24, 2015

This is National Film Board propaganda about refugee English children, evacuated to Canada during the Second World War. It effaces all sorts of trauma and sorrow, but as usual with the Board’s then production supervisor Stuart Legg (John Grierson tended to handle the rhetoric, and the civil servants), the context of the situation is so well and clearly established that you can still easily read the emotion, the high stakes between the lines. Unusually for a Legg film—in these early days he and omni-editor Tom Daly mostly compiled the work from archival material—they actually shot some footage for this production. More importantly, they went out and recorded sound, too. A similar innovation led to the much more celebrated Housing Problems (UK, 1935), but the effect here is just about as electrifying. That earlier film brought us poignant trauma and urgent witness. Here, we simply hear the kids, calling the folks back home at Christmas. In these blithe, fathomless exchanges we feel the hopeful optimism of the colonies, and the painful paradox of these kids’ thriving being measured by the dimming of their home memories. Great Britain saves the world, and then its Empire crumbles to pieces. Of its time, and much more.

Parp, parp!

A link:

Or, read all about it (Canadian vendor and everything):