So much has changed since the early 1940s, and yet when considering the racial divide - so much has not. Set in the United Kingdom just in time for the second world war, "Farewell Waltz" snapshots a few short pages from the book of Charles. Not any biblical book you may stumble upon, or some princely biography, rather a lowly black farm laborer who has eyes for a white lady - no doubt the daughter of his boss. Using the second world war as a springboard, allows this short film to create a sense of completion during its final act - and also highlights the noble nature of the "Charles" character. But this is a love story at heart, with racial prejudices working as the general antagonist of the movie. A love story that never was, never could have been.
You see reader, except for the briefest of moments, there is no physical contact between our two main characters. Come to think of it, there is also no dialog in the film save the radio narration heard throughout. The couple featured in this film, Charles and Rose, are only a couple within the realm of hope and desire. It's clearly no secret to each of them what they want, yet the times just won't allow it. It's frowned upon, forbidden. A black farmer and a white lady in the late 30s, early 40s? It just never happened... officially or without consequences that is. Yet, what makes this film so interesting is Charles' sense of duty and freedom - he's going to war to defend the freedoms of man. How much more ironic can you get? All in all, "Farewell Waltz" is an excellent piece of short filmmaking that has one drastic downfall... it's much shorter than I felt it should have been. This is one of those rare occasions that I feel more story, and more length, would have resulted in a higher rating. There was just so much good here, and then it ended.
Speaking of the technicalities of this short film - actually leave very little to discuss. It looks and sounds great. The use of radio broadcast footage and a background score - instead of dialog was a risky move... that paid off in spades. The lack of deliverable lines really allowed the character's actions and reactions to take center stage, and both Daniel Davids and Isobel Wood had absolutely no problem holding my attention. It's really amazing how much can be said, without uttering a single word. The combination of audio and performance really sold this film. No question.
I also want to mention the actual look of "Farewell Waltz" as a short film. The cinematography, colors, and even the edit itself all do the trick - and pull you into this world that seems so much larger than an indie short film. In all honesty, the presentation reminded me of classic television shows such as, "Little House on the Prairie" and the like. I can't say for certain it was the visuals themselves, but the feel of these old shows existed for sure. I mean that as a compliment, a big one.
At the end of the day, "Farewell Waltz" was everything I hoped it would be. Written well, acted well, and visually enticing. When it comes to film, what more could one ask for? I truly do feel that had a few more minutes been added, further exploring the feelings of the characters, or the feelings of that particular generation, this film could have been even better. However, a four and a half star review sure ain't bad - and that's what I've awarded it. Well done.