The residents of a British village during WWII welcome a platoon of soldiers who are to be billeted with them. The trusting residents then discover that the soldiers are Germans who proceed to hold the village captive. Written by
Steve Crook <email@example.com>
The poem from which the title is taken and which appears at the start of the film, is actually the second of four epitaphs written by Greek scholar John Maxwell Edmonds. These were written for graves and memorials for those who died in battle. The actual title is "On Some who died early in the Day of Battle". Another of Edmonds' epitaphs is 'When you go home, tell them of us and say, / For your tomorrows these gave their today". See more »
When the soldier puts the cookbook in the car, the position of his left arm changes. See more »
Great, shocking, little-known British wartime drama.
This film, made when the invasion of Britain was a real possibility, shows what might have happened if the Germans sent an advance force disguised as British soldiers. One expects, in a highly praised wartime drama that's been called brutal, that the Jerries are going to be pretty nasty. But what gives this film its incredible punch, its real power to shock, is in how the ordinary British civilians fight back. This is especially highlighted in three incredible set-pieces that feature typical small-town women, which I hesitate to describe, since the surprise and suddenness is part of the shock. One is unexpectedly killed. The other two kill the intruders with unflinching violence. But it's not just the ferocity of the violence, it's detail of the events, the editing and timing, the development of the characters through little details, the particularity of the sequences, and the realistic reactions of the characters to their own violence that makes the events seem quite real. One sequence involves the vicar's daughter, a thin, plain woman with a forceful personality. She discovers the plot, and finds that the village man who she may have a romantic interest in is a quisling. She deliberately takes a gun, accuses him, and shoots him. Yet, though she's apparently calm and takes steady aim, after the first shot she's enveloped in hysteria, firing again and again as though at a giant alien slug. In fact, in many ways this film bears an uncanny resemblance to the (original) INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS; a small town suddenly taken over by people who look familiar, act familiar, but who, inside, are deeply alien. Of course, this startling effect is achieved at the expense of a certain realism. This troop of 60 or more Germans don't just speak English, they speak the British idiom well enough to fool these canny locals. Their uniforms, their background stories, all are good enough to withstand the extended scrutiny of billeting with families, at least for awhile. The Germans couldn't have found enough men to pull this off, and wouldn't have taken the enormous effort required if they could. Such effort might be expended on one spy, but not on an invading force, which could conceivably have worn British uniforms but only to confuse the enemy in troop movements, etc. The success of the film lies in its details and its ability to draw sharp characterizations of the people in the small town, real people that go beyond standard character-types. It's possible to overpraise the film; it's just a bit flabby here and there, and the sequences showing the failures of various attempts to warn people outside the village are rather too cute. But it's successes are so spectacular that it's a must see!
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