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Film / Hope and Glory

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Hope and Glory is a 1987 film directed by John Boorman.

It is a nostalgic comedy set in a working-class suburb of London, taking place between 1939 and 1942. Billy Rohan is a schoolboy who is ten years old when World War II in the West begins in earnest with the German invasion of France. His father Clive, swept away in a tide of patriotic enthusiasm, joins up, despite being well into his forties and having already served in World War I. This leaves Billy's mother Grace alone at home, in charge of a family that includes Billy, his little sister Sue, and his rebellious teenaged sister Dawn.

The Battle of Britain and the Blitz turn out to be grand entertainment for Billy, who watches dogfights in the sky, goes around wrecking stuff in bombed out houses, and collects shrapnel that he finds in the streets. Dawn's teenaged hormones lead her to start going out with all the horny young soldiers that are suddenly around London. And Grace has to deal with her own long-buried attraction to Clive's best friend Mac. Meanwhile, the British people keep calm and carry on, as bombs fall, houses burn, and German pilots drop out of the sky.

Boorman followed the film in 2014 with Queen and Country, a loose sequel that follows Billy (now called Bill) through his Army training during The Korean War.


  • Coincidental Broadcast: Whenever we hear the radio it's something about the war. We know the first scene is set on September 3, 1939 because we hear Chamberlain's speech on the radio. We know about the Time Skip to May 10, 1940 because we hear Churchill's speech on the radio.
  • Coming of Age Story: Billy growing up during the war.
  • Double Entendre: Dawn and her boyfriend Bruce aren't subtle at all when they finish a jitterbug at the dance hall.
    Bruce: That was great for me. How was it for you?
    Dawn: A bit too quick.
    Bruce: (slow dance starts) Well, now we can do it slow.
  • Dream Sequence: All the war talk and his father's decision to join up lead to Billy having a dream where he finds his father dead in the trenches of World War I.
  • Enter Stage Window: Dawn avoids her mother's disapproval by rapping on the window and getting Billy to let her in when she comes back from dates with soldiers.
  • Expy: The extras playing the Home Guard were made to look like the cast of Dad's Army.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: When Billy wants to join the local gang of hooligan boys, they demand that he say all the swear words he knows. When Billy says "fuck", all the kids are awed. Then they get him to say some more pedestrian swear words like "bloody".
  • The Ken Burns Effect: Used with the camera that pans around the opening shot of a black-and-white photograph of the Rohan family at the beach.
  • Match Cut:
    • From Dawn showing Billy how her skirt will fly up when she dances the jitterbug, to exactly that happening when she's at the dance hall.
    • From Dawn kissing Bruce to lovers kissing in a movie that the family is watching in the theater.
  • Narrator: Narrated by an adult Billy, who looks back on those days with warm nostalgia. Like when he gets to go back to his grandpa's house because his school was hit by a German bomb.
    Billy: In all my life nothing ever quite matched the perfect joy of that moment. My school lay in ruins; the river beckoned with the promise of stolen days.
  • The Noun and the Noun: Hope and Glory
  • Old-School Dogfight: As seen from the ground. Billy stares up in fascination but all he can see is contrails looping around in the sky.
    Billy: You can't see what's happening!
  • Precision F-Strike: The kids in the gang are awed and impressed when Billy proves his worth by using the F-word.
    "That word is special. That word is only used for something really important."
  • Really Gets Around: Despite being a teenaged girl in school, Dawn has sex with lots and lots of soldiers. She even casts bedroom eyes at the German pilot who landed in their neighborhood, leading Grace to smack her on the head.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Billy's grandfather, who gets drunk at the family Christmas party and starts reminiscing, loudly and graphically, about all the girls he had sex with when he was younger.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The shot-down German pilot who parachutes to Earth in Billy's street (played by John Boorman's son Charley Boorman) cuts himself loose from his parachute, looks up, and finds the whole neighborhood gathered around him, staring. He calmly sits on a barrel, smiles sardonically, and lights a cigarette.
  • Stock Footage: The newsreel that Billy watches in a theater, which actually wasn't a real newsreel, but was made for the movie with footage from the 1969 film Battle of Britain.
  • Theme Naming: Billy's grandpa had four daughters, and he named them Faith, Hope, Grace (Billy's mom), and Charity.
    Grandpa: All the virtues that I lack!
  • Titled After the Song: British patriotic song "Land of Hope and Glory" by Edward Elgar.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Eventually it's revealed that while Grace gets along well enough with her husband, she really loves Mac. Back when Clive asked her to marry him, she held out hope that Mac would ask her, but he didn't because at the time he was Unable to Support a Wife. Mac starts spending a lot of time with the family, and he and Grace nearly kiss when on a weekend outing at the beach. In the end they don't, however, and she goes back to her husband.