Long-awaited 'Hope and Glory' sequel premieres at Cannes

Long-awaited 'Hope and Glory' sequel premieres at Cannes
John Boorman at the Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2009

CANNES, France - John Boorman's sequel to his 1987 Oscar-nominated film "Hope and Glory" premiered at Cannes on Tuesday with the story moving to the home front of a second war - this time Korea - in another autobiographical instalment of the veteran British filmmaker's life.

Exit schoolboy Bill Rohan jumping up and down for joy and shouting "thank you Adolf" as he discovers his school has been destroyed by a stray Luftwaffe bomb in the first film's closing scene.

Enter an older Bill, now an 18-year-old conscript completing his "national service" in a British army camp at the start of the Korean War.

Life in this particular backwater involves a lot of boot polishing, saluting and standing to attention but Bill soon finds his niche - lecturing other conscripts and teaching them to touch-type "like girls".

Boorman milks the situation for comedy in "Queen and Country" with an array of peculiarly British characters each fighting the tedium of home-front life in their own way, from the work-shy Private Redmond who elevates skiving to an art form to Bill's incorrigible prankster friend Percy.

Against this backdrop, a more serious plotline draws on Boorman's real-life job of lecturing soldiers who were being sent to Korea, one of whom refuses to go after attending one of his lectures.

"When I read it up (before making the film), I was horrified to discover the blunders that resulted in that war," the 81-year-old director said in production notes.

"General MacArthur was in charge and wanted to drop atom bombs on the Chinese. President (Harry) Truman fired him just in time."

Boorman, whose film was shown in the Directors' Fortnight on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, said that all the major events depicted in it were largely as they happened.

"In the film, Percy steals the regimental clock and the camp is turned upside down in an attempt to find it.

"The real Percy caused even more havoc by stealing several valuable items at two-week intervals," he said.

The film faithfully recreates the world of early 1950s Britain, with Morris Minor cars plying empty roads, wartime rationing still in place and families forking out for their first black-and-white televisions to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

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