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

Sixteen Years Afterwards is a Long Time

Sixteen Years Afterwards is a Long Time

I am at a loss to explain the local reviewers' ecstatic opinions of "Victory at Sea." Their adulation appears to have been brought on by the fact that the film's message is that "War is Hell." Well we all know that, and if having a noble message were all that were necessary to make a great work of art, into this category would fall such disperate items as Sunday sermons. Governor-General's speeches and newspaper editorials.

Despite the picture's avowedly limited aim, presumably, from the title, to deal only with the war at sea, it uses a lot of footage devoted to combat on land and in the air. Much of this we have seen before, though admittedly this fact should not detract from the film's effectiveness if the material is relevant, but as if seeing those same shots from "Fires Were Started," "Bomber Command" and "Target for Tonight", that we always get in war films were not enough to kill our interest, we have some scenes which are obviously studio or from feature fiction films. (One, from the sequence about Pearl Harbour, I am sure was lifted straight from "From Here to Eternity.") Much of the sequences give us close-ups of clean-cut, square-jawed young men grimly prepared to do their bit, all in immaculately lighted photography which contrasts oddly with the actuality material of marines blundering through 'he jungle, of unshaven, war-shocked soldiers staring blankly and uncomprehendingly at the camera, of wounded men writhing in agony and water-logged corpses lying on the beaches or rolling in the tide.

What is so infuriating in the film is the way in which the stock has been misused. While the announcer solemnly delivers a commentary in which Biblical quotation, Watt Whitman, would be blank verse and stiff upper lip are incongrously intermingled—(sincerely) trying hard to convince us of the futility of war. There is the blatantly jingoistic music by Richard Rodgers pounding implacably from the sound track.

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.

Rhodes Scholars 1962

The two Rhodes Scholars nominated for 1962 are Mr B. C. Gould, of Auckland, aged 22, and Mr Colin Jeffcott, aged 20, of Victoria University. Mr Gould, who has graduated B.A., LL.B., proposes to read for either B.C.L. degree or a B.A. in Modern History at Oxford. Mr Jeffcott proposes to read for a B.Ph. degree.

Ghana Government Warns Students

President Kwame Nkrumah has not only given his name to Ghana's new university on the outskirts of Accra, he has also assumed the office of Chancellor. The student body has expressed objections to having the Head of State "take over" their university, and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. The students' "disrespectful attitude" brought severe rebuke from their elders in the government and on the university council.

To deal with the problem of youth insubordination, a special meeting of the Nkrumahist Convention People's Party (Cpp) was held on November 30, 1961, at the university. The Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Tawiah Adamafio, was the first of the day's series of speakers to reprimand the restless student body. In his phrase the students have "forfeited all right to respect" from himself and the other administration officials. Speaking bluntly, Adamafio told the students that while the government would not interfere with academic freedom, nevertheless, the authorities were prepared to take "strong political action" against those who indulge in anti-Government or anti-Party policies.

Other speakers included the Chairman of the University Council, Kweku Boateng, who reminded the students of their obligations to their leader, the hero of Ghanaian independence, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah. To make the point even more strongly, Education Minister Dowuona-Hammond said that his ministry would take "drastic measures" against any educational institution found cultivating "dangerous attitudes of indifference. hostility, and disrespect to all those in authority."