I have just watched the film, ‘A Month at the Lake’, probably for the 100th time. I quite simply needed a bit of a tonic, so I took myself off to bed with a cup of tea, a small plate of Digestives and Toby the family dog. At times like this a feather duvet and a comforting movie is also required to invoke beautiful daydreams and an overall feeling of well-being. I can tell you; it did the trick!
The film, made in 1995, is based on a novella by H. E. Bates. Set in a villa hotel on the shores of Lake Como in the Summer before World War II began, it is actually a bit of a nostalgic cliché. However, the main characters are played by well-loved actors Edward Fox, Vanessa Redgrave and Uma Thurman, and while they act as if on stage in a play, their performance is both charming and entertaining. There are hints of romance throughout the storyline with Alessandro Gassman inserting a young Italian love interest into the mix.
Edward Fox plays a somewhat haughty bachelor and ex-army major turned businessman. Vanessa Redgrave plays a tomboyish, middle-aged, spinster who spent her life taking care of her father and accommodating her married (later to be widowed) lover. Uma Thurman plays a pretty young American nanny who turns the major’s head. Alessandro Gassman is a bit of a playboy and opportunist. They all play their roles to perfection!
While re-watching the movie I found myself wondering, as I have many times before, if this was really typical of an upper middle class holiday in the 1930’s. How many people, as World War II brewed in Europe, thought about popping over to Italy, or France, or Switzerland for a month or so? Anyway, H. E. Bates surely had more insight into this question that I have.
Among my other thoughts, as I snuggled in my feather bed and reveled in the nostalgia of times gone by, was how very fortunate we are nowadays that people of most backgrounds have the possibility to enjoy the beauty of Lake Como. On the other hand, I am astonished at how little seems to have changed in almost 100 years: nature, the beauty of the lake, the kind of enjoyment the soul needs to make life a real pleasure. Thankfully, this exceptional corner of Europe was left comparatively unscathed by World War II. As we celebrated Remembrance Sunday only yesterday, it came to mind that this legacy has been passed to us by those who bravely fought for our freedom all those years ago. Our task now is to preserve the spectacular natural beauty, the rich culture and the proud heritage for future generations. The privilege we now enjoy is also our responsibility. The brave souls who fought in World War II did us proud, and a stunning example of that is that we are free to visit Lake Como (or almost any other place we choose) any time we like.
Do watch the film ‘ A Month at the Lake’ if ever you want to while away an afternoon and see what thoughts it inspires in you. Enjoy!