Review: European Tour ‘73

Written, directed and narrated by Ross Munro, a son’s contemporary reflection on a family trip to Europe in the summer of 1973 and the revelation of the trip’s true purpose: a father fulfilling his dream of reconnecting his five small children to the steps of his own father, when he fought in World War II.

The first thought most people will probably have when watching this short film is: what sane person wants to drag five kids across Europe? Hats off to Munro’s parents for committing to a trip that likely sounds like a nightmare for a lot of people. Clearly they had the right idea though considering it left such an impression on their son that, over thirty years down the line, he’s making a film about it. That’s really what the heart of this film is, it’s incredibly sentimental, personal and nostalgic. There’s an undefinable quality to Super 8 footage that brings this sweetness and warmth, it’s intrinsically linked to both home movies and wannabe filmmakers, and brings a wholesome atmosphere. That’s then doubled down with Munro’s narration, which has a classic, simple sense of humour, which very much fits the 70s framing of the story. It brings a cheesy vibe for the earlier half but again, it’s completely suited to the tone it’s going for. There’s also a nice use of animation which feels sweetly homemade and understated.

However, when things take a turn for the more serious, exploring his father’s real intentions behind the trip and paying homage and remembrance to the war, it’s a hard left turn that doesn’t present the smoothest of transitions. Trying to match that earlier silly, light-hearted tone with touching upon the Holocaust is a difficult thing to do, the intent and feeling is there but the earlier half stops the latter from being able to hit a more serious tone. It’s unfortunate as the path they forge for the transition is there but it’s not quite enough to let the film then pack a punch in its final moments.

On the other hand, the editing work by Patrícia Maldonado Ramírez is very well done, it keeps everything moving forward and doesn’t stay in one place for too long. Alongside the sentimentality of the film, it also brings a creative tone to its atmosphere. You can genuinely see the thought process behind it, the bringing together of these home movies and memories, using different styles to connect the pieces. Although at certain points it does feel like this is a telling of a very specific experience that potentially isn’t entirely accessible, it would have been great to somehow open it up a little to allow a larger perspective. Granted, it’s a tricky thing to do with such a personal story and it’s hard to escape that when the filmmaker has this strong of a connection to the material.

European Tour ’73 is sweet, sentimental and creative, it’s a very personal story and its telling feels heartfelt and sincere. It’s appropriately cheesy and has a silly sense of humour, befitting its 70s setting. It struggles to make the switch into a more serious and emotional tone but the genuine intention is there and it’s a charming story.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

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