August 1944. Filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger send their new film out to entertain British audiences. ‘A Canterbury Tale’ is a balm for the temples of the war weary. A land girl and a pair of soldiers – one British, one American – wrestle a pastoral mystery in the ripe fields of Kent. History is laid out to show that all this death and destruction is temporary and that our land’s wounds will heal.
Of course, every member of the audience will react differently. People will choose the scene from the tapestry before them that speaks loudest to them and they will focus on this. Meanwhile outside, the doodlebugs rain down on a tired and dusty land.
The Second Seat, Third Row at the Regal Cinema, South London, plays host to a handful of the film’s audience. What does the film mean to them? Their stories are drawn out:
- The Teacher’s Tale – Miriam rails against Americans
- The GI’s Tale – Bob finds out what war means for the British first hand
- The Usherette’s Tale – Kay uncovers the seedy side of life
- The Manager’s Tale – William escapes his unsatisfactory existence
- The Porter’s Tale – Dora considers the future
- The Corporal’s Tale – Albert is searching for his past