film 3 of 7

In Which We Serve

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

Significant that this propaganda piece starts with a ship sunk, and ends with + half the men dead, meaning I supposed that a public blitzed would know a lying escapism when they saw it, and preferred its uplift somewhat seasoned with reality, Coward’s a strangely urbane captain, though you’re won over, and perhaps for auteurist reasons: if Lean was responsible for the style, the frequent pauses for documentary realism and affectionate renderings of industrial and military processes, as well as for “Kane” like effusions like the amazing Shorty’s wedding and house bomb sequences, then the intelligence and human breadth is probably mostly from the other co-director, the Bernard Miles’ character’s marriage is an example of how layered, uncompromising and ultimately affecting things can be, the dialogue’s rich, and there’s humanity despite the potentially one-dimensional requirements of the form; it’s still propaganda of course, somewhere between Jennings (all classes united in the common end) and Watt (some hell is knocked out of the enemy), still able to take it but about ready to turn on tonight’s target, the class dynamics are strongly, if subtly felt, and maybe the film itself isn’t aware of all their implications, interesting to compare with the enjoyably hysterical American versions of the wartime fabric (cf. The Human Comedy and Since You Went Away)