Fragments of a childhood transmuted into an indelible portrait of trouble and triumph in post-war rural Scotland. The stark photography, clear as the light of day, and cast of non-thesps shapes an experience both richly personal and universal. A landmark in British film and a testament to the enduring power of the image.
The trilogy is best seen in chronological order, as one film, and as such stands up as one of the genuine masterpieces of British cinema. In this final part, the glimmer of hope, of transcendence, even of spirituality, indicating that perhaps this forlorn wee lad may go on to became the magnificent artistic auto-didact Bill Douglas did become, are revealed to us during his RAF conscription in Egypt.
Last in the trilogy this is my favourite: the story carries on and develops into something a bit different from the two previous films. Technically speaking it is similar to the others, maybe even better, with beautiful and poetical shots and framing, a masterful use of black and white, and good acting.
This feels like the middle piece between Knut Hamsun and Claire Denis. You aren’t left guessing what happens with the boy after he grabs the chance to change his life and embarks on a ship, but it’s far from the playfully exploitative range of Ganymedes in Beau Travail, where Denis reverts the male gaze and applies it to male bodies, caught in a fake innocence intensely innervated by suppressed sensuality. The last
D'abord presque aussi triste que les volets précédents (la pension, le retour chez le père et la grand-mère, l'Armée du Salut), la fin de cette trilogie change de tonalité quand Jamie est enrôlé dans la Royal Air Force : c'est l'Egypte et le dépaysement total. Toujours renfermé, le jeune homme finit par trouver un ami et un peu d'espoir ; il s'ouvre au monde, dans une mise en scène qui reste d'une beauté sobre.