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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 12. September 25, 1946

The Last Chance

The Last Chance

It was pleasantly refreshing in this film to hear the actors speaking in their own languages and not in the usual Hollywood English with the appropriate superimposed foreign accent. The flashing on to the screen of the translations was rather disconcerting. At times we found ourselves missing the translations while studying the scenery or mentally trying to un-tangle those parts of the dialogue which were in French. We wonder whether the wording could not have been omitted altogether, and the film carried through merely by the gestures and intonations of the voices of the actors. The possibility is interesting, After all, a theory of speech is founded on gesture.

The actual facts of the story have been adequately given in the daily press, and further comment would be superfluous.

Strangely enough our most vivid memories of this film are of trivial details. Did anyone notice that there were only five bullets and consistently six Germans. Was there a subtle significance in this number? Objectively, we swore at the exasperating determination of those refugees who cling ridiculously to their unwieldy baggage. Subjectively, we would have probably done the same. And at the hut, in making that brew of tea, enough snow was collected for a pint of liquid and yet at the distributing end, out came cup after, cup. The parable of five fishes was not in the running. We were extraordinarily elated on seeing those German soldiers about turn on their skis in one neat jump. In fact we have privately decided that one of our next accomplishments shall be the same. And most delightful was the loveliness of feathery rushes glowing in warm sunlight. These things impressed us.

Essentially the moral is that there is no fundamental bar to mutual understanding between people. Given a sufficiently tangible goal, people of different creeds and nationalities can submerge political and racial differences in a common cause. The difficulty appears to be to define the goal and to approach it in an unprejudiced manner. We are too biassed in our outlook, too blindly patriotie. When we have learned to subdue these primitive emotions and to place others before ourselves we will have progressed.

The end of the film was flat, possibly due to an avoidable lapse in the logic of the plot. With the frontier lousy with skling Germans, and with practically no cover on the snow fields, the obvious course would have fields, the obvious course would have been to cross the frontier at nightfall. Yet, lo and behold, we see the party struggling up the mountain clearly silhouetted against a gleaming white background. Of course, they are seen and of course the Germans take a pot-shot at them. Perhaps the end was too sloppily sentimental for us. At any rate it was flat.

This film has no solutions to suggest, and it offers no constructive arguments as to how tolerance and goodwill can be created. A problem is stated emotively and it is left to those who see the film to draw their own conclusions.

—M.G.S. and T.A.T.