Throughout Went the Day Well and Passport to Pimlico, both films present different communities and the ways in which they come together through crises affecting their lives.
In WTDW, the opening sequence presents a clear sense of national identity. The tracking shot and the close-up of the sign saying “Bramley End 1/4 miles” combined with the use of bird-song and patriotic marching music signifies a peaceful and tranquil area to be entering. When meeting the first character, the country farmer, we are directly addressed, giving a feeling of approachability within the community. The shot of the farmer is a mid-shot on eye-level which emphasizes the feeling of being directly spoken to and make him feel ‘less of a threat’.
The setting of the film is firstly of a country road and a quite, sleepy country village. The focus on the Christian church allows the audience to think of the community as trustworthy, religious and likeable. The area, as it is idyllic and untouched, gives a quality to it that allows the audience to think it is worth saving through the war.
On the arrival of the soldiers in the second key sequence, the Germans are viewed in long shots, giving the feeling of distance compared to the close-up shots in which we view Peggy and Tom frequently. Some shots of the soldiers are viewed through doors or windows, giving the feeling of conspiracy and suspicion from the point of view of the villagers. The scene with the friendly, chirpy police-officer at the door is a good reference to class and social hierarchy in this film. There is a strong contrast between the rigid and demanding soldier and the chatty and cheerful officer which shows the difference between the community and these intruders.
Despite the fact that these soldiers are strangers to the villagers, they still greet them in a friendly manner, showing the closeness of the community and their welcoming nature. One of the reasons suggested for the soldiers’ arrival is that they are there for ‘exercise’ – this clearly shows the naivety of some village members. Women are seen working, showing that every person is playing their part in society and helping others.
The music at this point has changed from the peaceful tune to a military-style sinister musical motif. Despite this, there is still birdsong heard in the background which shows the disturbance within their community.
WTDW focuses on a series of different characters including Peggy, Mrs Fraser, Daisy and Bill Purvis as well as several children showing a microcosm of Great Britain. Similarly PTP shows a small community of traders such as those in the pub, Wix the bank manager, Frank the fishmonger, PC Spiller and the dressmaker. Throughout these films, neither of them has focused on a certain social class, yet has involved many from different levels, working class and higher class.
These characters never lose sense of their national identity throughout both of these films. PTP shows that for all their ‘dogged resistance’ the Burgundians never lose sense of their true identity shown by a famous line – “We always were English and we always will be English, and it’s just because we are English that we are sticking up for our right to be Burgundian!” This clearly shows the defiance of the community and qualities of tolerance and supporting the underdog.
Throughout the opening few sequences the village is shown as ‘sleepy’. The sense of community is really shown when they ‘awaken’ to the enemy and begin to act with determination and resourcefulness and when necessary ‘surprising ruthlessness’ The ordinary character in WTDW Mrs Collings, is shown to get her own personal revenge on the same soldier who assaulted one of the young boys in the village previously. This re-enforces her role in the village’s society as she is again the one who is ‘sticking up’ for the children. Another character in WTDW that is a stereotype is the vicar. He is seen to be almost ‘floating’ across the screen in a mid-shot of him combined with bright lighting, connoting saintliness and a heavenly martyr when he sacrifices himself to ring the bell, despite it not being a success.
The church scene again, backs up the idea that all of the characters are together microcosm of Great Britain. As they are all viewed together in a long shot emphasizes the fact that this is a close community in this village. This time the shots have reversed and the Germans are now viewed in close-up shots showing expressions on the face.
The rebellion at the church sequence is particularly important when showing national identity especially within the younger generation. The younger boy is seen to escape from the church as going through the woods to get help. He is aided by a poacher showing that in the most desperate of times even law-breakers help out. Despite getting shot in the leg, he still carries on in order to save his fellow villagers showing resilience and the strength of his character. The children in PTP are also shown to be innovative and determined to help their community by throwing the food over the fences to their hungry Burgundian parents. This is also shown by the slow pan long shots of all the packages of food sent by places around London, emphasizing the generosity of the country. In the blitz re-created sequence, food is shown to be flown in by helicopter, trains and every other part of society.
A shot of the skies during the war would normally see explosions and dark skies. In contrast to this, when shown a shot of the sky, we see a plane flying through the air writing the words “stick it out”. This signifies an even wider scale community, not just the Burgundians, but joined support of other communities around the country. Even the king at the end of the film praises the Burgundians with the celebration for acting the most “British” throughout the troubles. The soundtrack at this point is high-hoping and jolly with the idea of negotiation in the film. This is in contrast to the previous sequence with the fast-moving and hard music of the newsreel.
Throughout a certain sequence of the film, WTDW explores how the villagers go about common English rituals, emphasizing the national identity topic. When one of the women is interrupted by the soldier she is in the middle of cooking a Sunday roast, whilst attending to her children, showing the Germans have no morals and no consideration for others. When all being packed into the church, we see how the wedding of Tom and Peggy is interrupted. Because we have grown affection for these two characters throughout the film, we now have even more sympathy for the villagers and how their worlds have individually been upturned by these intruders.
In conclusion to the way in which the film-makers of these films have presented as sense of national identity and community through sound and image, Cavalcanti (WTDW) and Cornelius (PTP) have used the basic idea that in times of need everyone works together in order to create a peaceful atmosphere in their own communities, whether it be through fighting back physically, or just standing up for what they believe in.