BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

Friday, 17 February 2012

Pre-Production/Dissertation: Idea Development

Commando on 4od

Series Summary

In the spring of 1940, after the humiliation of Dunkirk, Britain was facing the prospect of military defeat and the country's morale and was at an all-time low. Churchill needed a solution that would not only give him the military edge but raise the spirits of a despondent population.

As a young journalist covering the Boer War, Churchill had come across a special breed of soldier, called 'Kommando' in Afrikaans. These men specialised in dangerous, dirty missions behind enemy lines. They stalked their prey like hunters and could kill with their bare hands. In Britain, after Dunkirk, it was an idea whose time had come.

Churchill ordered the setting up of his own 'army' of 5000 elite irregulars, whose exploits would strike fear into the enemy. A film crew would accompany them into combat, ensuring that their exploits could become a valuable weapon in the propaganda war.

> Narrated by Geoffrey Palmer attracts a certain audience.
> First hand account interview with veterans.
> Stylistic dramatic/supporting cut aways reconstruction recently shot on 8mm with grain etc.
> Not a typical opening title for historical documentary, perhaps appealing to C4 audience.
> Relevant Sequence revisiting a scenic location with contributors reactions and thoughts.
> Corrosponding archive.
> Interviewers voice is heard asking the question.
> Lighthearted demos of dirty fighting tatics "the commando knife was more commonly used for making toast"
> strange Sequence where old men run through traing regimes holding guns.
> March 1941 a 'stage-managed' film was produced of the commandos raid of the Norweigan La Folken islands: good pictures for a hungrey public and needed "to be seen to be doing something" propaganda film that the commandos believed represented them as 'media puppets'

British Pathe PLC
Imperial War Museum
British Movie Tone News

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