Monday 20 January 2020

A New Film a Day (8) - QUEEN AND COUNTRY (John Boorman, UK, 2014)

Queen and Country  apparently sank without trace after it premiered to a good critical reception in the Quinzaine at Cannes in 2014. Then again I often claim something never appeared or sank without trace only to have supercinephiles like Barrie Pattison or Tina Kaufman promptly fire in corrections. 

The copy I just watched has Chinese titles all over the cover packaging. Otherwise the disc itself is the same as the Brit Curzon/Artificial Eye DVD release from back in the day. So without remembering its origin or source I suspect it’s a copy someone brought back from China and passed on. 

The sequel to Hope and Glory (1987),John Boorman’s previous autobiographical memoir about his childhood during WW2, Queen and Country follows Bill Rohan into his two years of National Service in the early 50s. They were years of the Korean War, the death of King George VI, loss of virginity and the relationships between officers and men on the army base where Bill serves out his time.Boorman treats much of it as fairly gentle comedy – incompetent, lazy and obsessive military officers, an NCO who has memorised the Army Act, a private who knows every trick, and the problems of young conscripts with young women, the latter always seeming to be smarter, more sophisticated and a lot sexier. Only in a visit to a Military Hospital where the eventually humiliated NCO is lying sequestered in deep depression, his world having crumbled around him, does a momentary serious edge take over from lightly satirical scenes involving the theft of a clock and a ridiculous court martial which in a matter of cursory moments sends Bill’s mate Percy to Military Prison.

Maybe the lack of interest was from the film either being not funny enough or not heart-rending enough or not anger-making-at-injustice enough. No Good Morning, Vietnam (or even Dad’s Army). No Last Detail.  No Paths of Glory or King and Country. Gentle nostalgia didn’t do it anymore.

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