War films tend to focus on the battle. The heroic victory and the courageous feats of bravery. The spirit of defiance. Of determination. They’re often little more than propaganda. Or, on the flipside, the unspeakable evil which makes humans do the most terrible things. It’s rare for a picture to concentrate on the aftermath. The repercussion of a conflict on those impacted by it, whether serving or not. Frieda is a powerful chastisement of nationalism.
Frieda (Mai Zetterling), a German nurse, helps a British airman Robert (David Farrar) escape from a prisoner of war camp. In return, he marries her before they both flee to Russia. When they arrive in the sleepy Oxfordshire village their ‘romance’ has already been frontpage news. They’re initially welcomed by Judy (Glynis Johns), who is married to his later brother, but the rest of the family is cold. Especially his Aunt Nell (Flora Robson) who has political ambitions and is rabidly anti-German.
Based on a stage play and shot soon after the end of World War II, Frieda is a powerful ‘home’ drama which addresses a number of prejudices and post-war sentiments. Basil Dearden’s drama is very far from being propaganda, indeed quite the opposite. Little England is exposed by the treatment of Frieda. The propaganda and rampant nationalism of wartime doesn’t simply dissipate after the enemy surrenders. Frieda holds up a mirror and is as relevant today as it ever has been.
- NEW Strength And Weakness: Matthew Sweet On Frieda
- NEW Looking Back at Frieda
- Behind the Scenes Stills Gallery
The fully restored Frieda is released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital by Studiocanal Vintage Classics on 4 July.