This can be seen as a companion piece to 1995’s War Stories, Gaylene Preston’s fascinating documentary about the women’s experience in WWII New Zealand. In that film Preston interviewed her mother, Tui; this time she turns to her father’s story.
Tony Barry stands in for Eddie Preston, who dies in 1997, posing as her father through a series of interviews. Intercut with the interview is archival footage and beautifully rendered re-enactments featuring Martin Henderson as the young Eddie, and Preston’s daughter, Chelsea Preston-Crayford as Tui.
Subtly but movingly told, this is a striking tale of survival. Yet Eddie tells his story without any theatrics or hysteria. His tale of capture and imprisonment is told as if it were just another day at the office. And his experience is no different to the experiences of other kiwi blokes who went off to war because they felt a duty to play their part despite not really understanding what they were fighting for.
This is a film that perfectly captures a mood and a time and place, a world that no longer exists, but a spirit that is still present in our people.