Just One

A visitor on the steps of the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Sometimes we sit at the movies and watch the events unfold one frame to the next, eager to follow the camera’s gaze. We see the actors, the scenes, and props; we listen and become absorbed, the soundtrack leading our emotional path. With every spoken word, we hope for the discovery of a classic that may live with us for a lifetime.

In one such instance, planes fly overhead and we learn quickly of two generations, one presently untouched but absorbed by the magnificence of planes, and an earlier generation, whose familiarity to war returns them to their past with worry for the future.

“They don’t remember the last one”, Miss Pettigrew tells Mr. Blomfield.

I feel it instantly, one line that captures all that has happened a generation before and what will happen to this generation from 1939. These six words hover in my mind as the projector’s sprockets wind the film onto the reel. We move on.

Some while later as the planes fly overhead Miss Pettigrew and Miss Lafosse find shelter beneath a table at The Scarlet Peacock. Is this a raid or a drill? Miss Pettigrew delivers part two, “Listen to me…He died in the mud of France…He smiled whenever he saw me and we could have built a life from that…” As Miss Lafosse learns the direction of her own heart, Miss Pettigrew finds love in the the shared experience of another. Mr. Blomfield asks Miss Pettigrew, “Did you lose many?”…”Just one and you?”…”Almost every school friend I had.”

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, a romantic comedy, seems such an unlikely vehicle to deliver commentary on war and remembrance. I can watch this film over and over not concerned about knowing the film’s beginning, middle or end. A few words crafted together, delivered with thought and insight, takes me back to all those travels to England, France and Flanders where the memorials rise, the stones row on row speak to a thousand and one (and more) “just ones”.


About The Author

pferguson
Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

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