Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Beyond your most terrified, worst imaginings'

If you missed the Magda Szubanski episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (as did I until just then, not currently having a telly), then now is the time to watch it.

But it's not safe for work unless you don't mind blubbering in front of your colleagues.

How many of my generation of Australians owe their existence to grandfathers who somehow managed to survive the Somme, and Ypres, and particularly Passchendaele? Magda and me and my sisters, for a start. Was this some kind of hideous Darwinian bubble in the history of the 20th century? God knows there were plenty of others. Magda seems to be a survivor of several different ones. The WW2 one is worse.

Really, it is a miracle that any of us are still here. And a total disgrace than any Australian should be xenophobic or racist in any way. And considering the price that was paid for them, almost all of us should be making better use of our lives.


Mary Bennet said...

That was an amazing episode, especially her uncle talking about the trouble her grandfather had in later life.

As a devotee of the box, I loved the programmers' (maybe coincidental maybe something to do with 11 November) juxtaposition of this with the second episode of "Small Island" on the ABC. This also had a major character who'd had a bad war whose son was pretty clear on what was in store for him when the second one came along.

Ampersand Duck said...

I'm almost too scared to look, but I love this post so much that I'm off to iView now.

Gill Stannard said...

I have a weakness for the series, though the one that got me the most was Lisa Kudrow's (the American series shown recently on one of the free digital channels). Worth searching for it on youtube.

I've read my grandfather's very understated war diary and his account of being wounded at Messines. A nasty war, months in mud and rat filled trenches with dead bodies. But even worse was the lack of talk about it later. My father and his brothers had no inkling of his war years or even where (bodily) he was injured.

Anonymous said...

Yes - I saw most of this. Twas awful/amazing.s

Fine said...

It is indeed a very good series, I think. But, I'm going to have a little personal grumble here about SBS purchasing the franchise of successful British series and formatting them here. Please, SBS can you put some money into producers' pockets so we can actually develop our own formats, instead of supporting British filmmakers? SBS is so lazy and conservative these days.

ABC, incidentally, will now no longer support overseas franchises. (National broadcaster, support of local independent filmmakers, research and development etc).

iODyne said...

Of the UK subjects, actor Robert Lindsay was the best. His GF rowed boats in the landings at Gallipoli Beach, was blown out of the water, got another boat and rowed some more, and was blown out again. Lindsay went to the museum and saw the boats and it was very moving.
The WDYTYA? producers just love it when the subject weeps of course.
In Magda's story, the real highlight was that friendship her father had with his compatriot, and the letters saved, and the deathbed reference.
and she was heroic going in that sewer.

Emily said...

Magda's story touched me greatly. My father served on the Western Front in all those terribly places. He was shot twice and gassed, survived the war and the Spanish Flu which broke out shortly after. He was a quiet man who later suffered greatly with lung problems and ultimately cancer. His treatment as a returned serviceman by the then Australian Governments was nothing short of disgraceful. We are all told how good and brave our soldiers are but nothing is said about the suffering they go through after "serving their country". I recall reading in the past few years about the first soldier to be killed in Iraq. His widow received the princely amount of about $13,000.00 per year as a pension for herself and their child. To further illustrate the contempt with which Governments treat these men, she was not even invited to attend a service in Canberra during the visit of an American politician. "Lest we forget" - it is a sick joke.

epi said...

Twas interesting in Magda's story how her father had somehow turned out fairly normal, despite being an assasin for the Polish resistance at only 15 or so; and going thru other awful experiences. (typo - waful experiences)

Her grandfather sounds like he was more affected by his war suffering.

I do wonder about my own grandfather who drank too much and was not liked by his children. How much can be blamed on wartime experience, and how much was just him.