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A Pocketful of Posies (2001)



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May 2007 (UK)  »

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Interesting and quite touching collection of memories
26 July 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Shown as part of BBC4's Edwardian season of films, A Pocketful of Posies explores Edwardian society through the eyes of children. Using old film footage to set the tone, the film has a handful of contributions from some old age pensioners, born in the era who have memories from the very early 20th century.

As You Tube has been showing with some high viewing traffic for old people blogging their thoughts, old people can be fascinating. By this I do not mean nodding politely when you get trapped by an old man on the bus muttering about "hell on a handcart" etc but rather when you sit and chat to them and listen to them talking about specific topics across their live. I'm not suggesting that being old somehow gives you a great understanding and wisdom but more the experience of having lived through so many different times and so many changes – specifically what Talib Kweli called the weight of memories.

With Pocketful of Posies we have the chance to listen to a collection of memories from the childhoods of some people who were born around the turn of the last century. To hear them talk I did have many different emotions but my interest never waned in what they were saying. At its core, the film is access to a time that is many generations removed and has little in common with the world we now know. Think back over the 20th century and think of all the things that have changed in that period – cars, cinema (more or less), television, the world being made tiny by travel, mass media, computers and so on – imagine being born before it all and seeing it all come in.

The film does a good job of keeping this simple stuff in the background and benefits from building on this with more stories that speak of a generation while also being personal enough to be interesting. Here and there the recollections are amusing and touching but mostly they are tales of misery and horror. Dealing with issues ranging from sexual abuse, illegitimacy, the reality of the work house and so on. It is hard not to be touched by the stories and, while the same things still go on today in different ways, one does get the impression of the Edwardian period as not the time you wanted to be an orphan in.

A good range of contributions make it feel representative across the society and, no matter what the subject or experience, the memories are all well put forward in a way that makes listening easy and the emotion in the voices of many of those involved highlights the depth of the experience. Understandably a film that will not easily draw a mass audience but it is still worth a look as it is interesting and touching to hear the memories of those who were children in a time long gone by.

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