After watching Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's tremendous 1950 film Gone To Earth,I decided to take a look at co-director Michael Powell's IMDb page.With having read in articles for years that Powell had completely stopped making movies after filming the 1960 movie Peeping Tom,I was shocked to discover that he had actually made a number of TV/film projects.Expecting to find the title included in one of the 100's of Powell/Pressburger boxsets that have come out over the years,I was shocked to discover,that the movie had not been included in a single boxset.
Reading up on some movie news,I was shocked to discover that the BFI was holding a special one-off screening of The Queens Guard's in London,with the only problem being that I live 6 hours away from London,and that the screening was being held later that day.E-Mailing a few British DVD companies about their being any chance of the title now coming out on DVD,I was shocked to receive replies that their was no chance of the movie coming out on DVD,due to it not being "commercial"
Being unable to sleep one night,I decided to pick up my mobile phone,and search for any information on film titles that I was very interested in taking a look at.Deciding to search round for any info about the BFI's screening of The Queen's Guard's in 2012,I was astonished to stumble upon a DVD of the title,which led to me jumping out of bed and rushing to the laptop,in the hope that I could finally join the queens guards.
As he takes part in the Trooping of the colour ceremony,army officer John Fellows begins to think about the events that led him here.
Despite all of his attempts to be seen as "his own man",John finds himself unable to escape from the shadow of his brother David towering above him,with his dad telling Fellows that he will never be as extraordinary his (late) brother was,whilst his mum, (who cant accept that David has died,and instead claims that he is MIA) constantly ask Fellows why he cant be more like his brother David.
Taking a different view from John's parents,fellow army officer Henry Wynne-Walton tells Fellows that all of the soldiers who have died on missions are "quitters".Getting into a fight with Henry,John and Wynne- Walton are pulled apart,and ordered to make up by an army general.
After each of them sorry to the other for not behaving in the correct manner,Henry decides to give John a kind offer of dropping him off to his parents house.With Fellow's family living miles away,John decides to quietly sigh,and accept Wynne-Walton's offer,which will lead to Henry meeting Fellows family for the first time.Being warmly welcomed by the family,Wynne-Walton is showed by stories about the bravely of Fellows deceased brother David,and told that John will never be able to match his brothers legacy.Unbeknownst to Fellows,as he lowers his head to block out the surrounding noise,John's dad makes sure to keep a letter hidden,that reveals David to have not been the war hero that he is making him out to be
View on the film:
Made just after he had completed Peeping Tom,but before the movie had reached cinemas,director Michael Powell gives the film a terrific,humble elegance atmosphere by contrasting the extravagant exterior appearance of the military with the Trooping of the Colours sequence, (filmed during a real Trooping)with a more down beat,and down to earth interior,as Powell shows all of the soldiers being unable to feel that they have reached the level of greatness,which stands high above,and casts a long shadow across them.
Going back to a number of different time periods to see the frustrations of history and myth-making that lay in front of Fellows,the screenplay by Roger Milner and Simon Harcourt-Smith strikes a careful balance of not making a mockery of the life threatening situations that John puts himself in,whilst also peeling away any mythical aspect from the films soldiers,with the writers superbly showing that John's family focus on making David into a mythical icon,leads to them completely ignoring the reality of the situations that their surviving son is facing.
Peeling Johns army uniform away layer by layer,Daniel Massey gives a superbly subtle,quiet performance as Fellows,with the weight on his shoulders from the near Fantasy tales that his parents tell him about David being something that presses down on his shoulders from the moment that he begins his journey to Trooping the Colours,as Fellows begins to think that this is his one and only chance,to become one of the queens own guards.