Strength in the face of terror, valor instead of fear, honor before death: no wonder we love war movies. But in war, there are casualties beyond those suffered on the front lines.
Hope and Glory (1987) perfectly captures the chaos of London's Blitzkrieg on civilians, as told though the perspective of a young boy, Billy Rowan (Sebastian Rice-Edwards). Directed by the great John Boorman (Deliverance), the tale is autobiographical and it shows. Both dramatic and tender, Hope and Glory tells the tale of the Rowan family's day-to-day struggle to survive with humor, fantastic character development and superb cinematography.
The film opens with the declaration of war one sunny Sunday in September of 1939, a day that changed the world forever. Neighborhoods razed to the ground become the playground for Billy and his gang, looting, smoking, drinking and running amok amidst the carnage. Billy's impetuous father, Clive (David Hayman) -- deluded with visions of glory -- joins the army, leaving mother Grace (Sarah Miles) to care for the family of three. Much family drama ensues.
Grace and her brood eventually retreat to her family's beautiful home on a river, not 20 miles outside London, with pregnant and petulant 15-year-old daughter Dawn in tow. The timbre of the film changes entirely as little Billy communes with nature in the splendor and safety of the English countryside. The audience breathes a sigh of relief for the ravaged Rowans. Billy's curmudgeonly grandfather, George (Ian Bannen) steals the show.
Britons have a long and interesting history with the wines of Bordeaux and France's export of Bordeaux wines to England dates back to the 12th century. Claret is the English term for red wine from Bordeaux, which is most often blended though only the following grape varieties are allowed: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Bordeaux is one of the largest and most famous wine regions in the world, located towards the south of France and inland from the Atlantic coast along the Gironde estuary. It is further divided by the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, which flow into the Gironde.
Chateau Lieujean 2005 ($29.95 CDN, $22.65 USD) is a wonderful companion for Hope and Glory. The Chateau Lieujean winery is located in the Haut-Médoc appellation of the Médoc region of Bordeaux, which is on the peninsula between the Atlantic and the Gironde. Chateau Lieujean is one of 18 wineries owned by Lapalu Domaines, a family-run business whose properties span 230 hectares of the Médoc.
Chateau Lieujean enjoys gravel, clay and sandy soils, which are typical of the Médoc and provide good drainage in the rainy season. The climate is warm and humid with no extremes in temperature, ideal for ripening.
Chateau Lieujean 2005 is made from 65 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 35 per cent Merlot, providing excellent tannic structure, making this a great food wine but with enough fruitiness to enjoy on its own.
The nose is fresh and inviting, with a palate like a bowl of cherries. I chose this wine for the 2005 vintage, which seems to be living up to its hype as one of the greatest Bordeaux vintages in recent decades.
Jill Vanderkooy, Sommelier and certifiable bon vivant, has worked in the wine industry for over 10 years, has been drinking wine for 25 years and is a true devotee of film across all genres. Her liver thanks you for reading.