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Short summary

"A VERY SHORT WAR" is a deeply personal story, exploring the ramifications of loss. It follows the short life of early Australian aviator, Cliff Carpenter, using his narrative as a template to speak for all lives senselessly lost in wartime conflict. The documentary climaxes in the skies over Oslo, Norway as two Messerschmitt Bf110's attack a RAF Sunderland Flying Boat. Nine airmen perish and one miraculously survives. The story is told through the eyes of Bill Young, the nephew Cliff would never know.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Aurizar
    As an amateur military historian and film critic I think "A Very Short War" is one of the best WW2 documentaries I've ever seen. Here is the story of Cliff Carpenter, an aviation pioneer who in 1930 built his own monoplane in his garage! A man who was an obsessed aviator, barn-stormer and one of the first to join up to defend Europe against Nazi aggression. The truly great aspect of this documentary is it never descends into sentimentalism yet is, by it's well presented facts and understated interviews, a throughly moving and poignant tale of what a wonderful life Cliff Carpenter might have had, had he not volunteered for the fatal flight that was to snuff out his young life. The fascinating interviews unfold a story of incredible sadness when we learn he was mere months away from marrying his Australian sweetheart. I only know Director Bill Young's work as a dramatic stage and film actor and here he shows us another aspect of his talents. Young narrates but does not intrude into the telling of Cliff's story, letting the facts and the people concerned paint the picture for us. An outstanding documentary that made me want to know more of this rarely visited theater of WW2.
  • comment
    • Author: Meztisho
    This is a wonderful and unique documentary. It gives a rare insight into how war can affect families over generations. I was moved as I watched the story unfold. As someone whose own family was affected by the war I was really able to connect with the story.

    A Very Short War is interesting because it examines the impact on families, friends and communities not just during the war, but in the years afterwards right up until the present day.

    This is a must see documentary for both those who remember and those younger generations who are yet to learn of the sacrifice so many made for us...
  • Credited cast:
    Bill Young Bill Young - Narrator
    Matthew Dyktynski Matthew Dyktynski - Cliff Carpenter
    Deborah Kennedy Deborah Kennedy - Gwen Carpenter
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Kevin Golsby Kevin Golsby - Announcer
    Linal Haft Linal Haft - Ogwyn George
    Jim Pike Jim Pike - Tommy McDonald
    Stephen Shanahan Stephen Shanahan - Harry Purvis
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