War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Director: Gaylene Preston
There’s something about the way old woman talk about their lives that tells it like it was with no apologies. This is certainly true for the subjects of War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us.
Byron wrote: "Love is of man's life a thing apart, T'is a woman's whole existence".
Photographed against black velvet, lit by Alun Bollinger, One of New Zealand’s top cinematographers, these women tell bitter sweet tales of grief, laughter, love and loneliness.
New Zealand had a small population – just over 1.5 million people in 1939. Over the war years, thousands upon thousands of young men left to fight a war which was raging in places hardly any of them had heard of. Most of the women, young and old, stayed behind only to find their lives turned upside down. What had once been acceptable behaviour was often now out of the question. More importantly the opposite was also true. Many secrets were kept as the social order flipped and left exposed the private fears and prejudices of people.
"Loose tongues cost lives"
"Keep it under your hat"
In a country where not a shot was fired, wartime slogans in a strange way seem to mirror the private reality for many women who felt obliged to send the boys off to the front "happy" and to entertain American servicemen on leave from the Pacific.
Many of them were bringing up small children of their own, and suffering from the double standard of time which created an enormous rift between public and personal realities.
Then the boys came home and nothing was the same. The experience had changed them and the women too. How things were, was not how they were meant to be. An entire generation of New Zealanders, in a desperate bid to recreate "normal", seem to have kept an enormous secret.
Since the 1950's the silence in some ways has been deafening.
Now in their late 70's and 80's, against a backdrop of stills, montages and archive moving picture, surrounded by music they all danced to so splendidly, these women are ready to tell.
View excerpt from this title at NZ On Screen