“The Reader,” by Bernhard Schlink

Novel, 1995 A straightforward, first-person narrative of a young man who has an affair with an older woman with something of a history she’s not keen to share. Ultimately, this is a book about reactions to the Holocaust and feelings of desire, guilt and attempts to come to terms with and rationalise what happened and how people can deal with the aftermath and after effects. … Continue reading “The Reader,” by Bernhard Schlink

‘The Seige,’ by Helen Dunmore

Novel, 2001 A novel which starts out as a love story in war-threatened Russia, which then plays out as a long, savage struggle for survival as the Nazis besiege Leningrad. For the most part, the writing remains compelling and shows the very worst of humanity, but also the huge grasp and grip on family and society. The historical references and research occasionally get a little … Continue reading ‘The Seige,’ by Helen Dunmore

“Went The Day Well,” directed by Alberto Cavalcanti

Movie, 1942 Ealing film about the effects on and efforts of a plucky set of English villagers in their attempts to repel a German occupation in the Second World War. The usual nose thumbing and triumphant underdog which works so well in the studio’s comedies just about translates, but it’s a strain which – without a few decent performances – could have been in real … Continue reading “Went The Day Well,” directed by Alberto Cavalcanti

“Whisky Galore!” directed by Gillies MacKinnon

Movie, 2016 Curiously lifeless remake of the old Ealing comedy, set on a Scottish island where a whisky draught in wartime is solved by a shipwreck and skill of the islanders in keeping their stash away from the authorities. A film without all the effects and trappings of a blockbuster is always welcome, though despite some reasonably decent performances, the film as a whole is … Continue reading “Whisky Galore!” directed by Gillies MacKinnon

“The Dig,” directed by Simon Stone

Movie, 2021 Account of the excavation the the Sutton Hoo treasure in Suffolk, in 1939 and the relationship between the house owner, the excavator, the archaeologist and their assorted and assembled friends, families and colleagues. This film has a slow pace, initially focussing on the widowed land owner the renegade, deferential excavator, and slowly brings in other characters as interest in the treasure emerges. A … Continue reading “The Dig,” directed by Simon Stone

“The Last Metro”, directed by François Truffaut

Movie, 1980 Fairly straightforward historical thriller, in which romantic intent, the German occupation of Paris in World War II and the survival of a theatre are put together. This is a film which looks great and plays at a nice pace. The lack of tricks and gimmicks gives the actors plenty of space, and they handle the screenplay and action very well. There are levels … Continue reading “The Last Metro”, directed by François Truffaut

"The Monuments Men," directed by George Clooney

Movie, 2014 A strange throwback film featuring a crack cast playing a crack gang of allies foiling Nazis in a covert mission. In this version, it’s not a breakout or assassination, but the recovery of artwork. In a way, this is an easy film to like, though with the Germans stereo-typically mean and some of the cliches of camaraderie and character pumped to bursting, it’s … Continue reading "The Monuments Men," directed by George Clooney