Analyse the effectiveness of the techniques used by Colin Schindler to portray the impact of the First World War on a small English village in the screenplay “1914 All Out”
“1914 All Out” was written by the playwright Colin Schindler after he drove through a small Yorkshire village and saw a memorial commemorating those men who had came from the village, and had fought and died in the Great War. This made him wonder what effects a small loss of lives would have on a small village during and after the war. This inspired him to write the screenplay “1914 All Out” based on a small fictional Yorkshire village called East Grisewald.
This screenplay is about the effect of losses in East Grisewald on all the villagers there. Colin Schindler ties a cricket match and the war together. The cricket match, which was played in 1914 just before the war, involved the local young men of the village, and some of the older villagers. The performance of the younger men in the cricket match is later reflected in how well they perform during the war.
The main characters in the play belong to the Houghton family. Tom and Margaret are the parents of Ken and Joe. Ken is the older of the two brothers, and his significant other is Jean. The other main characters are: Arthur Hayworth, the landowner in the village; Jack and Hilder Fairbrother, Who are married to each other; Geoffrey Napely, Who is the village doctor; Roger Nicholson and Albert Stapleton.
Schindler uses techniques such as music, imagery, dialogue, costumes and propaganda cinema played at various points throughout the play to try and convey how the war affects small rural villages.
The music in the screenplay “1914 All Out” is used to create an atmosphere and to reflect the moods and attitudes of the village, before, during, and after the war. There are two hymns sung during the play, “The Lord is my shepherd” and “Abide by me” These hymns carry a message from the villagers to God. The meaning of this hymn is that the villagers are singing it because they are saying that God will look over them and look after them, just like a shepherd looks over his sheep and looks after him; God will do the same for them. This shows us how unaware the villagers are of how damaging the forthcoming war will be because at that moment, they believed that god would always look after them and that no harm would come to them.
“Abide by me” was sung during Margaret Houghton’s funeral after she became a victim of the influenza epidemic sweeping across Europe and died. This hymn was written by Henry Lyte in 1847 as he lay on his death bed dying of tuberculosis. He was here asking God to look over him and protect him, which is why the villagers were singing it here, because they were asking God to get them through this. As this hymn is being sung, Jack, Hilders husband, comes back from the war, after being presumed missing and dead. It is here that it appears that God is giving the villagers a ray of hope after so much hardship.
From the very beginning of the screenplay to the end, there is a piano refrain that is repeated in various parts during the screenplay. It is a minor piano refrain that creates an ominous mood when played. It is used for different things during the screenplay. It is used when ken jean are courting, which conveys a feeling that the relationship is doomed from the start. It makes us think this because the piano refrain is ominous and eerie. It is also played at the end when it shows the village in the 1970’s where the memorial stands on the village green to those who died in World War One. It is the same piano refrain that is played through out the whole screenplay, which range of years is from 1914 to the Modern day Britain. The piano refrain has stayed in the screenplay throughout, just like the memories of those that have died has stayed with the village.
Sad music is also played when there is talk of war in the pub and when there is news of Ken’s death, sad music is also played. This music is either a minor piece or the piano refrain, which both add to the sadness of the situation and the dreaded emotion Jean gets when Tom hands her the telegram, telling her of husband’s death.
Propaganda Newsreels were released during the war by the government to keep people up to date with the war. Every week, citizens would go to their local church hall or town hall, where a projectionist would come along to show the villagers the latest newsreel. Around the middle of the war the government made it mandatory for people to watch these, as people were no longer happy or enthusiastic about the war. The newsreels were just another piece of propaganda put out by the government to try and make everyone believe they were doing well in the war.
In the first newsreel, it shows men going off to sign up, and going off to war. The newsreel reads “National joy as war is declared” The villagers watching this newsreel appear to agree with the newsreel, and seem happy about the fact that war has been declared. “Land of Hope and Glory” is played during this newsreel on a piano as I have mentioned before. This creates a sense of patriotism within the village. Straight after the first newsreel, a Charlie Chaplin film is played, which shows how laid back the village is about the war, and how they do not realise the seriousness of it.
In the second newsreel it shows pictures of men fighting, then going over the top into No Mans Land, then capturing the enemy. No bloodshed is shown in this. The text reads “After four days of fighting a glorious victory” Everyone watching believes it, apart from ken, who knows it is all a lie because he knows what it is really like.
In the third newsreel, it shows a woman waking up to find out that her husband had not deserted from the war, as she had a dream that he had. This newsreel was put out because moral was so low between the soldiers in the war, that they a lot of them were trying to desert. This newsreel tried to get woman to write letters to their loved ones, telling them not to desert. During this third newsreel you can see that the villagers watching it are doing so reluctantly. The butcher stands up and says “There folk ’round ‘ere that don’t take too kindly to that sort of clap trap” He is here saying that he knows that the newsreels are just lies and that he does not want to watch them anymore. You can see during the screening of the third newsreel that more people are wearing black. This is because as the war progressed, more people died, and therefore more people were in mourning for the dead.
In the fourth newsreel it shows men in the trenches reading letters. They find out the war is over and they go into a building with their military uniform on, and coming out in civilian clothes. This is a message from the government saying that people in the war can now return their normal lives like nothing has happened. The newsreel reads “Armistice at last” Land of Hope and Glory is again played in this newsreel, though not as patriotic as in the first. No one watching it is smiling. This is because they have lost so much because of the war that it cannot take anymore from them, so they do not care if it ends or not because they have suffered so much from it they cannot suffer anymore. They also are not celebrating, because the war had killed millions, and so celebrating would not be appropriate.
Colin Schindler uses costume to reflect the status of the villagers. Colin Schindler uses it to also reflect the moods of the villagers, by varying the colours and pieces of clothing.
At the start, everyone is wearing pastel colours. They all wear white during the cricket match which adds to this idea of them all being pure and the village being untainted. As the war progresses more people begin to wear black as they are in mourning for the people they have lost. A lot of the women wear black veils over their faces. A veil is used for a wedding, which is a ceremony which binds two people together, but this shows the opposite, as it shows the separation of two people through death.
As the soldiers go off to war, their uniforms are all crisp and clean. This shows that they believe this will be a clean and easy war. But as the men start coming back, their uniforms are all torn and dirty which shows that this war is bloody and draining.
Colin Schindler uses dialogue to convey the villager’s emotions, and to vocalise their attitudes and political opinions on the subject of the war. Dialogue is also used to show how the villager’s opinions change overtime as the war progresses. The first quote I am going to look at is when before the war starts, Roger Nicholson says “real French wine and them girls” This shows us that he believes that this war will be some sort of holiday where he can relax and enjoy the French culture. Tom Houghton before the war also says “Aye, it’s a just war and no mistake” This here is telling us that he believes that the war is justified and that there was no mistake in going to war. This shows us that he believes that the war is not going to effect them seriously. He may also be a violent and competitive and patriotic man if he believes in sending men off to fight for their country with no real thought of the consequences. The consequences and what they will be for the men fighting, and for the people back at home, and for the whole country.
When Ken is going off to war, Tom, his dad tells him “I’m real proud of you” which shows that he is patriotic and proud that his son is going off to war and that he also believes that no real harm will come to his first born son. He also says as ken is going off: “They don’t play cricket, they’re not to be trusted” This is him telling ken not to trust the Germans because they do not play cricket. This is again showing us that he is not taking the war seriously at all and that he thinks it is just some sort of game and will end up like a game of cricket, with low casualties and everybody happy.
As the war progresses people start to try and forget about the war and get on with their daily lives. A villager says “It’s odd isn’t it, everything’s changed, can’t even remember what village were like before war started” She is here saying that she can’t remember what it was like to have young men working and living in the village, because they have been gone for along time that people have gotten used to it.
When ken comes back home, he argues with his brother Joe, who wants to enlist into the army. “Why should you have all the glory?” Joe said to Ken. He believes that going off to war is glorious, and he is jealous that ken has all the glory. Ken then tells Joe what it is really like to be at the frontline in the war. He says “It’s no secret to anyone who’s been over there, it’s only a secret here… the gas, the stink, the rotting body’s, the waist high mud” He’s telling Joe that everyone in Britain has been blinded by the propaganda and that what’s really has been made a secret. He tells Joe what it is really like to try and stop him from enlisting. This shows us that Ken cares about his brother and that he can still think clearly even after everything he has seen in the war. Even after Ken has told all this to Joe, Joe persists and then questions Ken “What about honour?” He asks.
He still believes that honour is worth going out there to risk his life for. At this point, Ken has an outburst: “Honour? Fuck honour! It’s a fucking idiot’s game!” This here is the only point in the screenplay where curse words are used. The reasons for this is because ken’s outburst is so significant, that only it will contain swear words in the screenplay to make it stand out. Ken here is saying that there is nothing worth going out there to die for, not even honour. It could also be a message from Colin Schindler who is saying that the reason men went to enlist was because of honour, but all honour did was drive men to their deaths and only idiots play that “games” where they risk their lives for honour. Even after this, Joe still enlisted.
As Joe left war Tom says to him “keep safe son” which is a contrast to what he said to Ken. This shows us that Tom Houghton now realises that this war isn’t just a game. Joe comes back on leave from the war for a short period. He goes to visit his old employer who owns the farms. He offers Joe his job back when he comes back from the war. Joe replies to this by saying “more likely the whizzbangs will get me first” He now realises that he should have listened to his brother when he had the chance, for now he believes he will not survive it, after being over to France fighting, and seeing the true reality’s of war.
When Jack comes back to the village, he says to Hilda “The Germans liked me so much they wouldn’t let go of me” He is here telling Hilda why he took so long to get out of the Prisoner of War camp, but is also trying to add a little humour to lighten up this dark time that the village were in.
At the end, during the end cricket match, Tom Houghton says “eee, for a moment then I thought it was our ken brought back to life then” This shows that the memories of those that have died are still in the people’s minds, and are thought about by the people when they go about their daily lives.
Imagery is used in the screenplay to give the audience a more elaborate idea on what the screenplay is about by presenting images that go with what is happening in the screenplay.
At the start of the screenplay, you see a “golden age” before the war, where the sky is gold and there are men working together in unison in the fields. The children are out in the fields helping their fathers. There are baskets full of food during the picnic at the cricket match, too much food and they cannot eat it all. This shows how life was before the war and how easy going it was.
The cricket match gets tied in with the war, and the performance of the men in the cricket match is reflected in their performance during the war. Ken does well in the cricket match, but then gets over confident and eventually gets caught out. This is true for his performance during the war. In the war, he last very long, but eventually gets caught out and killed. Stapleton was caught out quickly in the cricket match and was quick to die in the war. Arthur is slow in getting changed and getting ready to bat during the cricket match. This is reflected in the war, because he never gets the chance to go out to war. Roger gets injured on the first bowl, which is reflected in the war when he dies very early on.
The reason Schindler did this was because it shows that war is connected to everything and affects everything, and that people were stupid not to realise this, even when the effects of the war were foreseen and put in front of them before hand. During the cricket match a black cloud looms over them, which is like the war looming over them. This black cloud presents the question, is it to rain or not, which is connected to the question, will the war happen or not. But because the cloud is black, the outcome does not look good, and it appears that it will rain, just like the war will happen. When the men get caught out in the cricket match, they all sit next together away from the cricket match. The represents the dead being lined up away from the battle field.
When Ken, Jack and Dr. Napely go off to war they are paraded in the streets with many bright colours filling the streets and union jacks being waved around. This shows us that the villagers think that they are heroes before they even go off to war.
When Ken proposes to jean, she accepts under dead black tree. This shows that the marriage is doomed from the start and that it will not last because he will suffer because of the war, and he will die, just like the tree that their marriage was agreed under.
When Joe goes off to war there are no parades, and the only people that notice him going to war are a few children who are playing cricket outside. This shows us that the villagers now realise that war is nothing to celebrate.
When news of ken dying comes through, clouds cover the moon. This is showing us that the truth of what is happening in the war is shrouded and not as clear as the government is saying. It is also showing us that all hope and light is being covered, and that only darkness will overlook these people’s lives from now on.
As the war goes on, food is in such short supply. This is a big comparison to a few years back in the screenplay before the war began when they had too much food. This shows us that a war can affect people in such a short period of time, in a big way.
Whilst the men are off fighting in the war, the younger generation are being trained to take their place. Little ken gets taught cricket by his granddad. This shows that the older generation in a way know that the men fighting the war may never come back, so it is up to them, the older generation, to pass on the tradition of cricket.
When Ken dies, Joe takes his place and becomes a father to little ken, Ken’s son. This is showing us that life moves on, and even though the villagers have suffered greatly, it must not stay with them and they must start getting back to normal life.
In conclusion, we can see that Schindler wrote this screenplay because he saw a memorial commemorating those who died in the First World War. He wanted to find out how a war would affect a village. We can see how he used music to reflect the moods and attitudes of the villagers. He used sad music for dark times, and the piano refrain to create an ominous mood and to show that bad things were to happen. We can see that he used newsreels to show the use of propaganda by the government and how the attitudes of the villagers to these changed through the war, as they became less willing to watch these as they started to realise the truth of the war as more of their loved ones were killed.
We can see that he used dialogue to voice the opinions of the villagers, and to show how these opinions changed during the war. The villagers opinions towards the war were positive at the start, but grew to become negative as more people we killed. We can see how he used imagery to put across his views and to give the audience a more in depth look into what was really happening during the screenplay. We can see that a lot of imagery used by Schindler was him saying how stupid people were to be so “welcoming” to the forthcoming war, and how he used imagery to foresee future events, and how the villagers were blind to this.