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|Index||37 reviews in total|
Excellent cast, beautifully shot and well scripted TV movie about the
Kipling family at the start of the First World War. Premiered in the UK
on Remembrance Day (11/11) this poignant tale has Daniel Radcliffe in
the title role, showing once again (after his on stage appearance in
Equus) that there's more to this young actor than the caricature that
Harry Potter has become. His clipped and stilted performance completely
captured what it must have been like to be the put upon son of a
successful, middle-class author in late Edwardian England.
David Haig plays Rudyard Kipling (there's a remarkable resemblance) who many will remember from previous UK TV series 'Thin Blue Line' and 'Soldier Soldier' as well as the massively successful 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. Haig captures the British Imperialist that Kipling had become perfectly, as well as the emotional turmoil that Kipling went through as he realised just what he had helped to achieve by sending his young son to war. Haig also wrote the original play and screenplay so the resulting TV movie must be pretty much what he wanted.
The supporting players, Kim Catterill as Rudyard's American wife, and Martin McCann as the Irish Guardsman who goes to war with young John to name two, give excellent, measured performances which compliment the two lead roles, giving the whole production a rounded, glossy finish.
This is superb TV catch it if you can (but don't forget the hankies!)
Masterpieces are rare, but every so often a film such as this comes
along and delivers.
The story is of the son of the famous writer Rudyard Kipling during the first world war. Jingosim is the main subject of this story and Rudyard Kipling transformational arc on his views of sending his son to war.
Despite this being made for TV its at a standard that puts many blockbusters to shame, The screenplay is impeccable and the performances astounding. David Haig as Rudyard Kipling is perfect. Daniel Radcliffe despite being the famous face of Harry Potter makes the role his own as Jack. And Kim Cattrall proves shes more than being the slutty one from Sex And The City.
Thought provoking and emotional without being Cliché i feel i cannot give this film anything but a perfect score, a truly beautiful film.
I hope this film receives the attention it deserves.
My Boy Jack is a made for TV movie starring Daniel Radcliffe as Rudyard Kipling's son Jack as a teenager preparing for "The Great war" (WW1). Shown on Remembrance Day, here in the uk on terrestial TV (ITV1), it is a timely reminder of what people of different classes and backgrounds went through and the very different attitudes compared to today (..and some similar ones). It is well written and acted with a good pace and shows the character's as well rounded. I have never seen any of the Harry Potter movies (not my type of thing) so it was nice to see Radcliffe in action and very good he was too. This movie is a lot better than a lot of films at the cinema and for awhile you can still catch it on ITV.COM for free (Don't know how long it will be there) Definitely worth a watch!
I found his very interesting, not least because it fascinated me, one
who generally finds programs about war repetitive, distasteful and
untrue of reality. This film seemed so hopeless because you know he has
no chance but really it is not about the boy in many ways, it is about
the father and his conviction and his choking pride that takes
precedence in the film. Daniel Radcliffe, unfortunately, did not play a
totally convincing role as Jack, the son, but since he was much younger
and far less experienced in the world of serious acting I think he was
simply out performed.
The main character of the film was Rudyard Kipling and everything you feel is aimed at his loss and guilt for pushing his son to do something where he was destined to underachieve in, due to his "disability" (poor eyesight). I think this rigid but heartfelt performance was brilliant. The score was orchestral and built up atmosphere and sadness throughout, while the camera-work was inventive, intuitive and well shot throughout, including some rather experimental frames.
I think that the film as a whole really captured the feeling of grief and guilt that many must have felt at that time, the sense of irretrievable loss of something so precious. I think this is a great achievement as a film. I recommend anyone should see it who is interested in any aspects of film, it gives its best in all areas.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not a fan of the Harry Potter films and in all honesty don't know to much about Daniel but after watching this moving film I have to say I was very impressed with young Daniel's acting.As someone else said ,the last 30 minutes of the film were very sad .David Haig also gave a great performance as Jack's father Rudyard Kipling ,as you watched ,it was heart breaking seeing him pushing his boy through the medicals with his poor sight knowing that Jack would be killed. This is the sort of thing the BBC used to make but now its left to ITV to make real drama.The battle scenes are very realistic ,as the men await the order to go over the top ,the fear and terror they feel is highlighted brilliantly without much speech .A fantastic film which shows the horror of war better than most.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was very impressed, an excellent and highly sensitive production that
documents the famous author Rudyard Kipling's efforts to gain his
heavily short sighted son John (Jack) Kipling an officer's commission
in the armed forces.
I was impressed by the acting on all accounts, particularly David Haig, and his and Kim Catrell's interaction as husband and wife is notably natural and moving. Daniel Radcliff also performed well. Many have doubted his skill as an actor, I like many have never been overwhelmed by his performances in the Harry Potter films, but I have never been his severest critic either, believing much of his defiances to be due to weak screenplays. His performance here - with far better material to work with - stands up well to scrutiny, as he manages to project a sensitive combination of youthful ambition, the upper classes belief that they were the natural leader of the common man, and the basic fear of war and death. To those who have scorned at his casting, I can think of no other actor who would be able to draw the attention of the younger generations to such a subject.
It must be noted that the quality of this production was superb, with trench life realistically recreated to the extent that it was shown. The contrasting camera work between the home and trench environment, may seem obvious but it was skillfully done, creating the right tensions between circumstances, without making you feel nauseous. The locations, costumes, set e.t.c were unnoticeable in the best possible way, in the sense that nothing jarred on your mind or felt modernized or out of place. Again this may seem an obvious comment but often period pieces (unfortunatly often produced by ITV) fall into this trap.
Above all this though, what impressed me most was how skillfully 'My Boy Jack' portrayed attitudes to war.
It manages to portray realistically the proactive and enthusiastically patriotic attitudes to war and empire that were predominant within the middle and upper classes in the Edwardian era. The vigor with which this is done is impressive as it would easy to dilute such attitudes for the modern pallet, especially considering Rudyard Kipling's popularity as a children's author. This attitude is combined superbly with Rudyard's disillusionment after his son's death. His personal grief and guilt jars movingly against his empire ideals, which he clearly clings onto in a belief that his son was doing his duty for a cause he believed in. It is an internal conflict which I'm sure holds just as much resonance for todays soldiers and their families.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The presence of young Mr Radcliffe in the cast would naturally draw high viewing figures. Just like Ms Catrall he's inextricably associated with another role but he shows that he is a very good actor in this production. It shows what a terrible waste war is. After Jack failed his medical for the Navy Rudyard Kipling went to great lengths to get his son into the Army. Like many parents at the beginning of the First World War he was very proud of his son going off to fight for King and Country. But nothing could compensate him for the loss of his son. It is very sad where Rudyard Kipling is telling the wee lad the story about him and Jack as Bengal Lancers and then he can't continue because he's too sad. This was very appropriate viewing for Remembrance Sunday. It prompted me to dig out one of my old Blue Peter annuals which had a feature on a Blue Peter Special Assignment on Bateman's, Rudyard Kipling's house where quite a lot of this was filmed. I thought Kim Cattrall was unusual casting for this production but the Blue Peter annual told me that his wife was American! The family had moved to Bateman's because of the death of their eldest child Josephine and their previous home, The Elms, was too much associated with her. Kipling had more than his fair share of heartbreak. Arguably My Boy Jack makes good family viewing and there's no doubt many children watched it for the reason I gave above. Harry Potter has definitely brought about an upsurge in kids reading and I hope some will be prompted to read Kipling's stories rather than watch DVDs of the Disney version of the Jungle Book which definitely would not have been endorsed by Kipling. I'd also recommend The Man Who Would Be King which is in fact a story by Kipling, not just a great film with Sean Connery. David Haig gives a great performance as Kipling and he's better than Christopher Plummer in The Man Who Would Be King. He is good in the scene where he is telling the local children the story of How The Rhino Got His Skin (a story I can remember my teacher at primary school reading to the class and it was one I liked). Anyway, an excellent play.
As a Kipling fan from the age of 8, 50 years and more ago now, I was
knocked out by "My Boy Jack." David Haig, as writer and actor, is
beyond brilliance, and though I found Daniel Radcliffe a bit stiff and
modern, he too was excellent.
Kim Cattrall: surprisingly good. But I was totally distracted by her American pretending to be English pretending to be American bizarre accent. Let her use her natural speech (and yes, I know she was born and spent time in England) or else hire a good dialogue coach.
Though the whole production was gorgeous (Bateman's!) and moving in its interrelationships, the bookending of the scenes with friends King George V and Rud just tore my heart out. The King having just lost a "boy Jack" of his own (young Prince John, an epileptic, subject of another fantastic Masterpiece series, "The Lost Prince", some years ago), Rudyard recites the poem he wrote for his Jack. I sobbed through the whole recital, and was still weeping when I went to sleep a few hours later. Staggeringly wondrous. And cathartic in the sense in which all tragedies should be. Fine, fine work by all concerned.
I have been viewing Masterpiece Theatre for many years and I have
trouble thinking of one episode that surpasses the excellence of this
The main actors all give great performances in this story of how Rudyard Kipling, poet laureate and a member of an important government war committee, persuaded the authorities to enlist his son Jack despite failing two health examinations because of his poor eyesight. The rest of the movie deals with the dilemma that never seemed to cross Kipling's mind: what moral responsibility would he bear if anything happened to his much-loved son?
As we see in the run-up to the declaration of war, Kipling was a fervent supporter of taking on the "Huns". In the commentary following the film, we learn that he never served his country on the battlefield. Instead, he put his expectations on his son Jack. The scenes from the Great War tell the horror of the conditions in the rat-infested trenches as soldiers coped with open wounds in the rain and the mud. Then cutaway to the Kipling home in pastoral English setting...the contrast is vivid.
Kipling's wife (Kim Cattrall) and daughter (Carey Mulligan)are extremely upset at the prospect of John "Jack" Kipling going off to war. Daniel Radcliffe performs the role of the dutiful son who also proved to be more than a capable leader of the young men in his charge. Martin McCann, who plays the soldier Bowe who saw the younger Kipling die in battle, gives an extraordinary performance when he visits the Kipling estate to tell the story of Jack's death.
A very noteworthy scene takes place at the end of the movie when Kipling visits George V, the reigning monarch, and a personal friend. In this scene, the King expresses his sympathy to Kipling and then mentions that his own son recently died. This is a reference to the youngest child of George V and Queen Mary, who was an epileptic, and died suddenly following a seizure. This event was treated quietly by the press at the time. However, whether or not this meeting happened, it is an interesting side-bar to the movie, with the King and his poet laureate sharing their grief.
I have always been interested in the story of Jack Kipling from the time I read a newspaper article about how a Canadian who worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was able to locate the burial plot of Jack Kipling towards the end of the 20th century, many decades after he died. This was something the Kipling family had tried in vain to find.
For me, this movie adds an extra dimension to that story and to the ongoing cinematic treatment of a war that is now almost 100 years ago.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"My Boy Jack" is the second film that successfully portrays Kipling as
a character - Huston's "The Man Who Would Be King" being the first.
Whereas Huston's film was a great allegory of the British Raj or
empire-making in general, "My Boy Jack" relates the writer's personal
tragedy at the death of his only son who died at Loos in 1915, and in
what was called "the Great War" back in the days when no one knew that
a greater still was shortly to come. The tragedy was compounded by the
fact that Kipling had used his influence to get Jack into the Irish
Guards in spite of a medical examination which Jack failed due to poor
eyesight inherited from his father.
The film is more than brilliantly acted by scriptwriter David Haig (Kipling), Kim Cattrall (Carrie Kipling), Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter graduated from Hogsworth to play Jack) and Carey Mulligan (Elsie Kipling), but it sets out to paint a slightly hindsighty and overly pacifist picture of what actually occurred. David Haig's screenplay shows us a family at war with each other, with the boy almost pressurized by his father to join the army (after he fails the Navy examination), and it shows Carrie and Elsie openly blaming Kipling for Jack's death in scenes that are more reminiscent of a modern day soap opera than a portrait of the clear-sighted Kipling and his staunch and ever-supportive American wife.
There is a faint odor of post-Vietnam pacifism over the entire film, although never too explicit and always clashing with the stark realities of WWI that are also duly included: that Britain simply could not allow Germany and Austria to run rampant across Europe. Action was indeed called for, and there was no doubt about it, for, as Orwell once put it: pacifists are the objective allies of tyrants.
Kipling has been called a jingoist and warmonger (a title later ascribed to Churchill whose similar stand would save Europe from the Germans some twenty years later) and Kipling has been called an imperialist but mainly by people who fail to understand his writings or, indeed, haven't read them. Kipling did not change his view of war or of the empire after the death of his son, he was always a realist although a subtle one and remained so.
The film ends with a very fine and subtle dialog between Kipling and George V. The king relates the death of his own young son. The film lets George V find the body of the prince, still warm, which he counts a blessing this forms a heartrending contrast to Kipling who never recovered the body of his son at all, but there is yet another contrast in the deaths of the two sons when Kipling quotes his poem "My Boy Jack" that closes the film, indicating his small comfort found in the fact that John Kipling gave his life to a worthy cause in an ultimately inevitable war: "Then hold your head up all the more, this tide and every tide; because he was the son you bore and gave to that wind blowing and that tide."
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