- Directed by Calum Rhys -
‘Our Father’ is one of many projects exploring the horrors and dehumanizing aspects which characterized World War II. Unlike many other films, however, which almost exclusively focus on fast-paced action sequences and heroic deeds, ‘Our Father’ touches more upon the human aspect of the conflict. It traces a fine parallel between a child’s imagined war game and the actual bloodshed.
The accent is placed upon the characters from the very start- what they feel, experience, miss and go through, what their cherished hopes and expectations for the future are. A group of British soldiers, marching towards Caen during the Normandy operation, have a chat- small talk about the war, their loved ones at home, and what they wish to do after the war ends. Optimism born out of the necessity for a faint glimmer of hope to hold on to contrasts with the pessimism of other members or the squad- in times of war, more likely to fall into the realm of realism. The whole idea of reaching their next small victory in the step-by-step approach, getting to Caen in one piece, is questioned. The film beautifully captures the disheartened feeling exhibited by the weary men when they step back into the real world, one where an enemy squad could be waiting to attack them at any moment- which subsequently happens.
The battle with the German soldiers, as well as its aftermath, are seen through the eyes of Private Cole- a young man who hopes to go back to England in one piece and live a normal life, close to his sweetheart Kathy and far away from bloodshed. His commanding officer, despite having been a butcher back home, doesn’t feel any more comfortable with his current situation than Cole does. A beautiful antithesis is presented here, between a young Cole, mimicking war while playing in the fields during summer days, not having a care in the world, and the actual real-life experience of war that he goes through several years later. The film begins and ends with these shots, emphasizing a sort of circularity also pointed out by the watch, a recurring theme which suggests the imminent passing of time, as well as nature’s obliviousness in the face of human tragedy.
Despite the all-too-familiar war drama elements, and the simple, straightforward and slightly cliché manner in which the situation of the squad develops, ‘Our Father’ retains plenty of originality in a genre which makes it very difficult for fresh approaches to exist or flourish. The beautiful cinematography blends perfectly with a suitable and well-dosed soundtrack, creating an almost poetic approach: the chirping of the birds, the scorching grain fields, the quiet beauty of a sunset. All of these resonate with Cole’s final action, which confirms one of the predictions shared by the men in the beginning, and alludes to the senselessness and absurdity of war.