For me language was the strongest element of “A Canterbury Tale“, a 1944 British film set in the same area, where Chaucer’s stories, but not in the same age. This movie is set in the year it was shot and shows interactions between American and British soldiers, along with the civil population, and amongst them specially young women. First I thought the characters talked funny and fast. Then I realized that they did say funny things, but they sounded funny only to my way post-post-war ears. I still maintain that they talked fast, but I am not sure whether there was a technical reason for that (in the realm of capturing sound or converting the film), or the actors were directed to do so, or that’s how people talked back then. I suspect the second option is the closest to the truth as the movie was still over two hours and this way more could be packed into it.
Nevertheless the funny and fast speech was beautiful and incisive. Through the poignant delivery off the script we got insights into
- Wartime thinking of soldiers
- Religious fervor
- Life in a small village
- The mind and drives of men chasing women
- Contrast between a kid from rural Idaho and and British townsfolk
I had to rweind the DVD a few times to fully understand what they were saying, but I didn’t mind as it was shear pleasure. The movie sometimes felt outdated, but this feeling only helped me to face my own conceptions about how the world is changing.
If you want to see an intelligent movie reflecting on the lighter side of an international drama and an opening into a world gone by I recommend to sit through this one.
IMDB’s summary: A ‘Land Girl’, an American GI, and a British soldier find themselves together in a small Kent town on the road to Canterbury. The town is being plagued by a mysterious “glue-man”, who pours glue on the hair of girls dating soldiers after dark. The three attempt to track him down, and begin to have suspicions of the local magistrate, an eccentric figure with a strange, mystical vision of the history of England in general and Canterbury in particular.