Tuesday, 22 November 2016



            



Put the kettle on ... oh, all right, maybe the tiniest drop of Bristol Cream sherry if you must. This is such a treat and. although it's on very limited cinema release at the moment, it will be on television over Christmas. Ethel and Ernest is the story of Raymond Briggs' parents from 1928, when lady's maid Ethel (I'm not a skivvy!) first waved a duster at larky milkman Ernest, until their unbearably poignant deaths in the 1970s. It's also a social history of ordinary people's lives through the 20th century: their pride in buying a house on a £850 mortgage which must have seemed astronomical - through the war years when their boy was evacuated to the country - and just as well, as they were bombed out twice - to the new television that brought Dixon of Dock Green and the moon landing into their living room.
It's not cosy because there's nothing cosy about Ethel breaking her heart at parting with the five-year-old son she dotes on. 'Over my dead body,' she weeps. 'It'll be over his dead body. Is that what you want?" insists Ernest. There's nothing cosy about a Morrison shelter that seems a very flimsy protection against bombs dropping on your head. Nothing cosy about the terrible things Ernest witnesses as a firefighter down at the docks. But they soldier on, and there's nothing cosy either about the indignities of death on a hospital trolley beside a can of Vim.
There have been some snarky reviews from critics (2* in the Observer, 3* in the Guardian) who seem to want Ethel and Ernest to be a different, angrier film about different people, not this gentle, affectionate couple aimiably bickering and buggering on.
But most people will love it. The voices of Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn, exactly right. The hand-drawn animation (64,800 drawings for the entire film). The memory-jogging period detail; that ubiquitous green paint. And no matter what life throws at her, there's Ethel's love of flowers - always a bunch of her favourite daffodils or anemones on the table. There's a trailer here.

13 comments:

Gina said...

It sounds perfect. Can't wait to see it.

Sue in Suffolk said...

Not for children though so why on at Christmas?
Hope they don't turn the book he did about nuclear war into a TV programme That would scare the kids!

Mary said...

I think it would be fine for children, Sue - children I know are all fascinated by the war. The Christmas show I'm less convinced by is Maigret - I do enjoy Rowan Atkinson, but it's rather gloomy for Christmas. And this new episode is rather macabre.

Veronica Cooke said...

Oh, it sounds so good. I can't wait to see it. Over 64,000 drawings? I really can't get my head around that many - and the drawings in your post are exquisite.



Mary said...

It's amazing to think of all the work that goes into it. Veronica. I think I read somewhere that they used a lot of the people who woooorked on The Illusionist a few years ago - which was a lovely film if you haven't seen it.

Ann said...

The illustrations are delightful. I was already looking forward to seeing this film and even more so now.

Sue said...

Oh that does look good. There's a nice review by James King on youtube for Kermode and Mayo.

Toffeeapple said...

I was going to watch the clip but then I saw that McCartney was 'singing' on it...

Mary said...

That would put anyone off, Toffeeapple. I thought I'd linked to the trailer, must have done something wrong. Don't think he intrudes on the film though!

Cosy Books said...

Perfect! I'm really looking forward to this one, Mary. Just a few words from Jim Broadbent and I want to grab a cup of tea and a cosy cardigan.

Mary said...

You'll love this, Darlene.

The universal cabinet said...

I remember being given the book of this for Christmas when it came out and becoming so involved I really cried when they finally died - there's one picture of Ernie trying to hold himself up at the sink that makes my throat close up just thinking about it. Briggs' love for his parents really shines through, as does the decency (much abused word these days) of Ethel and Ernie. Packing my tissues and definitely going to see this.

Mary said...

I think it's very close to the book. Would be lovely to see it in the cinema rather than on television.