Adventures of a Suburban Boy by John Boorman - review by Christopher Bray

Christopher Bray

Wallpaper and the Wilderness

Adventures of a Suburban Boy


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If British moviemakers can be divided into realists and romantics, then John Boorman is firmly on the dreamier side of the equation. Filming Hope and Glory (1987), his autobiographical take on Blitz-blown Britain, Boorman had printing blocks etched to reproduce the wallpaper that hung in his parents' living room during the war. It's a lovely bit of mundane detail, but for all the domestic precision the movie feels more like slumber's reverie than a slice of the real. Boorman might have grown up in an Acacia Avenue suburb just like the one recreated in the movie, but he was growing out of it at the same time.

The suburb was Carshalton and the Avenue not Acacia but Rosemary - 'a monotonous street of semidetached houses similar to four million others that were built between the wars'. Boorman was born there in 1933, the son of a King and Country Tory who had fought in the Great War and insisted the family stand to attention whenever the National Anthem came on the wireless. Under such restrictions do romantics burgeon, but Boorman's sense of drama was nurtured by Dad's impossible demands too: 'He yearned for me to succeed, yet he revelled in my failures. I was

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