Back to the Somme: Part 6

Walking the Mill Road, Somme, France. (P. Ferguson image, April 2007)

Walking the Mill Road, Somme, France.
(P. Ferguson image, April 2007)

Delicate Hope

Its been a long while…our last visit to the Somme.

This day we end our Somme series (for the time being)…no doubt there will be a return. The last actual walk was August 2018 – a drive from Ypres to the Somme with friends and family…Rosemary…at long last has learned why this ground continues to provide reflection for her other half.

Rosemary knows me well – of my struggle to recognize the peace in this beleaguered ground I walk. I search the conflict in the peace as well as peace in the conflict. Subtle differences these words. Close together – contrasting effect.

It is this juxtaposition of words that guides each step, a slight jog to the left or right. There are smaller things to find. A new path to take. Not just the fields of lives too short, markers of too few words, or memorial sites too small for the lives they embrace and yet too large a record of stories lost somewhere deep within their engravings. While here within the conflict we find the peace – a flower bloom across the field – cornstalks rising skyward. It is more than the shards and stonework of the Great War. Delicate hope for this tortured ground…and peace in the conflict.

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 Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration 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 inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", 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 was 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, Paul 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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