The Crunch and the Silence

A new visitor to Thiepval reads their names. From floor to skyward and around the next corner, name upon name, life upon life. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

A new visitor to Thiepval reads their names. From floor to skyward and around the next corner, name upon name, life upon life.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thread Five

The steady crunch of loose gravel beneath our feet announces our arrival to the names recorded here. As we move across from stone to grass the silence is heartfelt…it is respect. A mist upon the horizon, silhouettes at the Stone of Remembrance…the shock of looking upon the Thiepval Memorial for the first time. For some this place, recording more than 73,000 lives, is overwhelming. They console each other within each other’s arms…trying to find words…but still it is too much. All the while rain falls within this structure, pooling tears only adds to the hurt.

For one within our group their reaction records a racing mind trying to respond to the enormous presence of this loss, these persons missing on the Somme.

This is unbelievable. This is…it’s just…it’s…um…it’s the only word……….”but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and and honoured burial given to their comrades in death”…so these guys are just lying out there?….unbelievable…..unbelievable…the absolute magnitude of this…I guess it has to symbolize that 73,000 were not laid to rest, not resting…but remembered…[Thiepval] you have to go there and step onto it, to understand it…and why it is there.

As we leave we step again through the silence and across the crunch of gravel. If names might have memory, they understand that we can return home whilst their silent vigil, for all time, continues through the crunch and silence of visitors.


About The Author

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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