Arts & Culture
The film was premiered on 19 September
Royal premiere for Somerset film
A film about a royal who inspired thousands during the World War II, made by a Somerset production team and featuring Ham Hill as a back-drop, has been given the Royal seal of approval at its premiere.
A chance meeting at Castle Cary train station between film producer Lynn Rothwell and journalist Candice Allen led to the unearthing of an inspirational story from World War II.
Candice told Lynn how she had wanted to tell the story of a "royal propagandist" who "inspired a nation through the power of radio, reaching her people in their darkest hour", a story her grandmother used to tell her when she was little.
Lynn introduced Candice to Somerset film director Ray Tostevin; it immediately sparked Ray’s interest.
"We dug around and found film archive from the BBC. After pulling the broadcasting stories together, we realised we had an astonishing story of how people survived, hung onto messages conveyed to them through the radio as the only way of keeping in touch with the world," said Ray.
Bush House was used for radio broadcasts
The film, Charlotte: A Royal at War, tells the story of how Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and her government pursued freedom for their people against the brutal occupation of Hitler’s Third Reich.
During her wartime exile, Charlotte and her government waged an international battle to regain freedom for occupied Luxembourg.
Campaigning in England and the USA she highlighted the plight of Luxembourg on the world stage and won the support of leaders including President Roosevelt.
Charlotte used her radio broadcasts from Bush House in London and NBC in America to bring messages of hope to her countrymen who had endured five years of occupation.
Luxembourg was liberated in the spring of 1945. Charlotte’s return, shown using unique colour film archive together with a BBC correspondent’s radio broadcast, is "an emotional high point of the film".
Reconstructions were filmed in Ham Hill
The film tells the story through eye-witness testimony and previously unseen colour archive found in the vaults of the BBC.
Reconstructions of events were filmed on location in south Somerset as Ham Hill's meadows and wooded hillsides are very similar to Luxembourg.
"The countryside when we filmed this in October was in fact quite close in appearance to the Luxembourg countryside and we used that to re-create some of the escape scenes in 1940 and we also used a local hotel which had sufficiently grand rooms to give the appearance of being inside of a royal palace," said Ray.
Haynes Motor Museum at Sparkford provided a suitable vehicle and students from Yeovil College were used as extras.
The actual re-construction of the broadcasts was done at the BBC's Bush House in London and then the film returned to Somerset to be edited.
The film, which had its premiere in London, was attended by the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, who represented the British Royal family.
last updated: 29/09/2008 at 11:32