Until now in 2011 I had not seen this film, and I am pleased and surprised to learn that so many millions watched it when it was first released. I already knew the book, of course. This was in a way my father's life; he saw the ending of the worst years, 1933 onwards, working on Suffolk farms, and his own stories matched this film exactly. He, like "Tom", might have gone on to a good school, but there was no money for that, and he started at age 14 on a Suffolk farm, living-in, "all found" and no wages at all for the first year. Luckily he was offered part time training at Chadacre Agricultural Institute, and became a skilled farm worker, herdsman, shepherd, and eventually a farm manager. "Boy" was his normal term of address or description for anyone. "Old boy from Swaffham" could mean a 15-year old or a pensioner. "There was no fat on them old boys" was how he described the men he worked with 75 years ago.
The film stuck to what it was like. There was no acting then, or in this film, just people saying things through the day, and always trying to settle or resolve all troubles with proverbs and sayings and mottoes. A closed world, really. The leaving was so difficult and so simple, so treacherous --- how dare you? Not like other films, but the story deserved to be told, and told just like this is. I'd like to thjank Peter Hall for making this film.
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