Midlands Review of White Feather
By midlandsmovies, Apr 15 2020 07:54AM
Directed by Daniel Arbon
Middle Realm Productions
White Feather is the latest short film from Middle Realm Productions, written and directed by Daniel Arbon. The film tells the story of a returning soldier who is met with backlash upon his return from the trenches due to his stance as a conscientious objector.
It is 1919, the war has ended, and the news of this making the front page of a newspaper belonging to George (Robert Moore). He's not reading it however, he is using it as packaging for transporting expensive crockery to a customers house. The sun beams brightly on George as he makes his way through his calm and peaceful village to Mrs Teesdale's (Penelope Wildgoose) property.
As Mrs Teesdale greets George we get a sense that he is a polite and well spoken young man, his manner easily impresses his customer as she goes into her house to complete the purchase of the crockery. Her husband calls out off screen to ask for his name to which he replies, silence, moments later Mrs Teesdale returns to the door throwing a white feather at Georges direction. We later find out a white feather was given to objectors as a symbol for their “cowardice” even though they served just as a non-combatant.
An earlier offer of a ride back into town in her husbands motorcar is swiftly replaced with a scolding perspective, “we have no dealings with cowards” she rudely says.
As the feather drops slowly to the ground Georges memory transports him back between the frontline of the trenches and the corridors of a court as he awaits his hearing in regards to his objection in firing a gun.
These locations are shot with shocking realism for a low budget short film with Arbon, alongside cinematographer Ash Connaughton, creating a claustrophobic, hellish battlefield, smoke bellowing out as George interacts with his fellow soldiers.
This is bold and powerful filmmaking, how can a man serve his country yet arrive back home a “coward”? Arbon tactfully presents both sides of the argument but without a dull courtroom setting, the visual of George sat in a trench whilst the audio of the future hearing plays out is expertly done.
An example of this is seen at the beginning of the film where George is at Mrs Teesdale's door, a photograph of a young soldier can be seen in the corner of the frame. Could this be her son? Has he been killed in battle? Is this the reason for her outburst? Arbon doesn't demonise her at all, the audience are invited to embrace the subject matter and ponder what their stance is on the topic.
White Feather will draw obvious comparisons to Hacksaw Ridge, a WW2 drama about a combat medic who refused to carry a weapon, it was refreshing however to see this film set during WW1, an event that until a few years ago never quite got the re-appraisal it deserves in cinema.
Armed with a short budget and a talented Midlands based cast and crew, writer & director Daniel Arbon defies expectations and creates a strong and informative period film about the injustice of war.