WWII – The Long Road Home (originally Charlie’s Letters) is available to watch on selected digital platforms and to buy from selected UK stores. Written, directed and starring Elliott Hasler this is an incredible biopic story about his own great-grandfather during WWII and is an amazing feet of micro budget filmmaking especially from someone so young. Elliott was sixteen years old on its completion, making him the UK’s youngest person to have a film shown on Amazon, Sky Store or iTunes.
The film tells the remarkable true story of Elliott’s great-grandfather, Charlie (played by Elliott Hasler himself), told through his letters, which he wrote to his wife ‘Tup’ (Alice Rogers) after he was sent away to war during WWII. The film re-enacts his war experiences when he was captured at the battle of Sidi Nsir in Tunisia and taken to an Italian internment camp, before escaping and crossing war torn Italy, alone, in search of safety and the ally borders. His wife, ‘Tup’, was at home and faced her own dilemmas, as she was being charmed by an overseas officer back on the Homefront, not knowing if her husband would return to her and their young son. The film is even more remarkable that it was started when Elliott was just 14 years old and was filmed on a budget of less than £3,000.
If you can excuse some of the technical imperfections, basically being shot on a DSLR camera without a full crew and with some fairly green actors, which in a way add to the film’s gritty realism. The minimal script has its poignant moments and although wooden sounding at times there is again a dogme style reality to it all as the film retraces Charlie’s steps, told through his letters and the imagination of his great-grandson.
It’s a dramatic tale of love, courage and survival that captures much of the unimaginable horrors of war told using creative visuals and sound to circumnavigate its budgetary restrictions. The locations are captured with some stunning landscape scenery giving the audience a real sense of the epic journey undertaken from Brighton to his posting and capture in Tunisia and subsequent escape across Italy. The costumes, props and extras all encapsulate the period adding to the authenticity that shows a good eye for detail and overall great cinematic potential for a young director making his mark.
As war movies go this is as entertaining and engaging as many other higher budget films despite its flaws. It’s exciting to see a gutsy film from such a young UK film director who seems to have a natural flair for true storytelling both script wise and visually. The film pays real homage to his family and hometown history as well as to the sacrifices ordinary local folk made during the war and he has even been touted as the next Spielberg.
Film: WWII – The Long Road Home
Director: Elliott Hasler
Stars: Elliott Hasler, Alice Rogers, David Aitchison
Genre: Action / Drama / War
Run time: 1hr 16min