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HOPE AND GLORY – Peter Martin

November 2, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hope and Glory is a semi-autobiographical film written and directed by John Boorman, which takes a look at the experiences of a young boy and his family living through the Blitz, the nightly bombing of London by the Nazi German Luftwaffe air force at the height of World War II. Despite the very serious subject matter, Hope and Glory is a quite wonderful film due to its perspective; much like Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, it is told from the point of view of a young boy who sees the world with an idealized innocence, and for whom the terrors of air raids are an adventurous game. It’s a clever and effective mix of a coming-of-age drama, a children’s action film, a social and familial comedy, and a nostalgic celebration of the resilience of wartime London, and was a huge critical success, being nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. The film starred David Hayman, Sarah Miles, Sammi Davis, Ian Bannen, and young Sebastian Rice-Edwards as the lead character Bill, and has an original score by British composer Peter Martin.

Peter Martin is a somewhat enigmatic figure; most online resources, including IMDB, seem to think that this Peter Martin is the same Peter Martin who worked on the George Clooney movie Good Night and Good Luck in 2005, and performed jazz piano at the White House for President Obama. However, that Peter Martin was born in Missouri in 1970 and would have been just 17 when Hope and Glory came out, so they are clearly different people. This Peter Martin appears to have just a handful of credits in the UK in addition to Hope and Glory, including the wartime TV series Piece of Cake, and John Boorman’s 1990 film Where the Heart Is, but his film career seems to have come to an end in the mid 1990s. Subsequent biographical information about Martin is non-existent – there aren’t even any photos of him – so I can’t tell you where he is or what he is doing now, but I certainly wish he was scoring films, because the music for Hope and Glory is excellent.

Martin’s score is a clever mix of dramatic film scoring and arranged excerpts from classical music, blended together by an original theme that forms the basis of a new ‘wartime’ song, the title track “Hope and Glory”. Music played an enormously important part in British cultural life in World War II, with singers like Dame Vera Lynn (“We’ll Meet Again,” “White Cliffs of Dover”) and Flanagan and Allen (“Run Rabbit Run,” “Underneath the Arches”) capturing both the wistful nostalgia of the British, and their resilient comedy in the face of danger. Martin’s song, co-written and performed by Helen Sava, is deliberately intended to evoke similar emotions; the weeping strings and Glenn Miller-esque dance hall arrangements of the song give it a strong 1940s feel that is quite excellent.

The Hope and Glory theme appears in the score frequently: as a solo piano piece at the end of the emotional “Clive’s Farewell,” with similar piano-led solemnity and reflection in “After the Fire,” with the melodrama of classic Hollywood in “Romantic Movie,” accented by sad strings in “Dawn and Bruce Quarrel,” as a dance hall “Slow Waltz” full of muted romance, and as a depiction of a typical English brass band in “Trumpet Voluntary” (which in this instance has nothing to do with Henry Purcell).

Other cues of note include the summery but barely-disguised Mozartian flamboyance of pieces like “Scrumping” and “Fish Miracle,” the gently romantic oboes and flutes of “Wedding Reception Toast,” an upbeat original jazz piece called the “Hickory Hop” which sounds like a Glenn Miller standard, and the moving string-led finale in “Railway Station”.

One of the other clever things Martin does is to use classical music arrangements as score. This is a deliberate reflection of the music that Bill hears in his head during his imaginary adventures around the city. “Rogue Balloon,” for example, uses Wagner’s Dance of the Apprentices from Act III of Die Meistersinger to evoke the pseudo-comical image of a barrage balloon floating gaily over the rooftops of London. Later, “Parachute Descent” features music from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung as a theme for the Luftwaffe pilot whose plane is shot down and crash lands close to Bill’s home, and who becomes a mythical figure of fascination, apprehension, and terror for Bill and his friends. The use of Wagner as music for the Germans is also a subtle piece of leitmotivic irony from Boorman and Martin, considering Wagner’s own anti-Semitism and sympathies for Nazi ideology.

Later, there is a performance of Chopin’s ‘Suffocation’ Prelude in E Minor, which Bill’s mother plays on-screen on the piano at home, while the conclusive “School Bombing and End Title” features more Wagner, more Mozart, and a patriotic blast of Sir Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, the most English of English classical works, and from which the film itself takes its title. Land of hope and glory, mother of the free, how shall we extol thee, who are born of thee? Thanks Adolf!

It’s a real shame that Peter Martin’s career in film didn’t continue much past this high point, and I genuinely wonder what happened to him, because on the evidence of the music heard in Hope and Glory he could easily have had a filmography of a similar standard to someone like George Fenton, for example, had he continued. The soundtrack itself was released by Varese Sarabande in 1987, but appears to be quite rare today, with copies going for between $70 and $400 on the secondary market. Despite the film being curiously overlooked by cinephiles today, and despite the obscurity of the composer himself, the score for Hope and Glory is very good, an excellent mix of wartime nostalgia, appropriate dramatic scoring, and carefully chosen classical selections.

Buy the Hope and Glory soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Hope and Glory (written by Peter Martin and Helen Sava, performed by Helen Sava) (3:00)
  • Rogue Balloon (1:58)
  • Clive’s Farewell (2:48)
  • Parachute Descent (2:22)
  • After the Fire – Hope and Glory (1:17)
  • Scrumping (0:57)
  • Wedding Reception Toast (1:16)
  • Romantic Movie (1:05)
  • Dawn and Bruce Quarrel (1:38)
  • Hickory Hop (2:25)
  • Hope and Glory – Slow Waltz (1:30)
  • Fish Miracle (0:57)
  • Cello Theme (0:37)
  • Railway Station (2:00)
  • Bill’s Rebirth (0:25)
  • Trumpet Voluntary (0:52)
  • Prelude in E Minor, Op.28 No.4 (written by Frédéric Chopin) (1:45)
  • School Bombing and End Title (2:58)
  • Hope and Glory – Reprise (written by Peter Martin and Helen Sava, performed by Helen Sava) (1:59)

Running Time: 31 minutes 49 seconds

Varese Sarabande VCD-47290 (1987)

Music composed and conducted by Peter Martin. Orchestrations by Peter Martin. Recorded and mixed by Eric Tomlinson. Edited by Michael Clifford. Album produced by Peter Martin.

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