Weekend history post
When The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was released in 1943, Winston Churchill tried to have the film banned. The movie is about the friendship of a British officer, Clive Candy and a German officer, Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff who improbably becomes his best friend over the decades. But it is also a story about how both derive different lessons from the times they live through, a period which spans the Boer War to the war against Hitler. Clive still believes in "fair play", no matter what, and Theo has learned to believe only in survival. The following two excerpts from the film show how similar the debate was to that of today's. Both Clive and Theo were fighting for England's survival; Clive for his cherished idea of England and Theo for anything he could save of it at all.
Theo on Nazism and how people like Clive are out of date.
"The film begins with a British Home Guard exercise during the Second World War. The leader of the defenders, Major General Clive Wynne-Candy (Roger Livesey) is "captured" in a Turkish bath by soldiers of the 1st Battalion, the Loamshire Regiment, who have decided to strike earlier than the scheduled start time, as they believe this is how the Germans would fight, in contravention of all rules of war. This leads to Candy's vigorous protestations that "War starts at midnight!" He scuffles with the young lieutenant in charge of the soldiers and both fall into a bathing pool, and this segues directly into the film proper, which begins with Candy's days as a young and impetuous officer." At the end of the movie Clive Candy reflects on his humiliation at the hands of a younger generation of British officers who won by playing dirty. Then he looks down at the emergency water supply that is the bombed out site of his home and thinks, "now here is the lake and I still haven't changed."