War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us

on September 09, 1995 by Pat Kramer
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   In this retrospective documentary, produced in association with The New Zealand Film Commission and New Zealand On Air, seven aging women recount in intimate detail their heartfelt stories of love, romance, marriage and--too often--loss, as the men were called away to World War II.
   Juxtaposing images of then and now, thanks to vintage war film footage and treasured sepia photographs of the interviewees, each woman relates in remarkably candid detail the way things were back then recalling their often frantic efforts to marry before the war wrenched away the men they loved. Using a single camera, the women, now in their late '70s and '80s, respond to questions posed by an off-screen interviewer. As these memories bubble to the surface, so do the bottled-up emotions associated with their youth as they relive the times and memories of 50-years ago. In presenting these interviews in a simple, unencumbered format, the focus remains on the significance of the stories each chooses to tell, shedding a whole new light on world history--that of a women's point of view.
   While the dialogue is occasionally difficult to understand (due to dialect differences), the film is extremely interesting and informative, presenting a range of human experiences. From the POW widow to the female army soldier, captured by the enemy, to the wife of the consciencious objector who suffered for her husband's political views, each story is unique. For those who are too young to remember a World War or even those who do, War Stories pays homage to those times. Rather than dwelling on sadness, it celebrates life--that of the survivors and the men who never came back from the war.    Featuring Pamela Quill, Flo Small, Tui Preston, Jean Andrews, Rita Graham, Neva Clarke McKenna and Mabel Waititi. Directed and produced by Gaylene Preston. A First Run release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 88 min.
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