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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 1. 1962.

A Musical Ragbag

A Musical Ragbag

This is the biggest drawback of the whole picture. Without let-up, this musical ragbag of pseudo-Sousa and fake Wagner distracts one's attention from the scenes it is supposed to accompany. (Sometimes I wondered what was supposed to be accompanying what.) While the commentary is pointing out the needlessness of the men's deaths. Rodgers' vacuous meanderings sound suspiciously like a recruiting march.

The editing is of the unexciting kind that one might expect—a misplaced hodge-podge of miscellaneous shots haphazardly strung together. There is far too much footage devoted to irrelevant (in the context) action, so that there is a lot which should be present which has been left out.

There is some material which I have not hitherto seen—scenes from Japanese war films dealing with Pearl Harbour and the Kamikaze pilots, action in German submarines, but all the time one waits for the next sequence with anticipation, for this will be the one with which the film really comes alive. But of course it never does.

Among the odd scenes which are the most moving, there are two which I found the most poignant of all. These are the ones about the liberation of the concentration camps (even if out of context here) and the scenes of reunion between returning servicemen and their relatives. Here, the viewer feels like an intruder and at last one feels involved in (the film—the emotional conviction that has been missing from the rest of the film at last appears.

It is amazing that any film-maker with such raw material could so ineptly bungle the job of assembling it. From all points of view the East German productions such as Operation Teutonic Sword, Resnais' Nuit Et Brouillard or the Swedish Mcin Kampf remain object lessons on the compilation of actuality material into a meaningful and artistically satisfying whole.

Finally, what was the point in assembling this old material? Nostalgia, a desire to prevent future war, or what? The aim remains as confused as the treatment.

Also over-used are the scenes of sunrise and sunset, seen from the hilltops on which the Negroes have their shacks. These are very pretty and, in their travelogue way, just as irrelevant to the action as the shots of airliners leaving Rio. The stilted acting of the children and the ending in which they will, it is implied, carry on Orpheus' tradition with his guitar, is overwhelmingly banal—a fitting conclusion to a mediocre film.