War, as a concept, is one which exclusively relates to and concerns the human race. While all other beings on Earth do what they must in order to ensure survival, humans fight each other for ideals which are not theirs to begin with, and when everything ends, it will have claimed countless lives and made irreparable damage in almost every aspect. ‘Memories from Huntington Hill’ delves into these matters, particularly the absurdity and futility of war, and how such events change a person and make them do things which they wouldn’t normally do.
In its runtime of roughly 17 minutes, the film directed by Jon Milograno tells the story of Will, a young man from Georgia who cannot fight alongside his father in the Civil War, because he has to stay home and care for his blind sister, Adeline. When the two hear news about Atlanta being taken by Union forces, Will decides to take all valuables from their household and hide them in the mountains, so that they would be safe from plunderers. While searching for a suitable hiding place, Will meets a fleeing Confederate soldier, and later learns that he had been under his father’s command.
The two main actors, Anderson Pusey and Kevin O’Donnell, generally achieve a high standard of believability and aptly endow their characters with the right emotions, both through dialogue and non-verbal elements – however, a few awkward interactions between the two are noticeable. The same goes for direction and cinematography: everything is generally good and even very good, but punctuated here and there by a less than inspired camera angle or sudden cut: action scenes especially suffer a bit, and immersion is slightly affected by these decisions. The soundtrack is very appropriate, though perhaps a bit pervasive at times, both in volume and location: some scenes might actually be more emotional or revealing without an accompanying score.
‘Memories from Huntington Hill’ also makes an apt use of symbols in order to get its simple but layered message across. The father’s medallion plays an important part, but even more relevant within the context is the sister’s character. Though scarcely utilised directly, she plays a vital role both in a real context, where her affliction grounds Will at home instead of on the battlefield, and on a metaphorical context as well: the two are blind to the horrors of war, and Will’s eagerness to be actively involved in a fight comes at odds with the Confederate’s retreat, which can be interpreted as cowardly, but also as a refusal to take part in the senselessness which characterises the conflict which had engulfed an entire nation.
Although there is considerable potential for improvement in almost every area, ‘Memories from Huntington Hill’, taking into consideration the financial constraints under which it was produced, is all in all a very good project and a great achievement for all involved. Its biggest merit is the fact that it doesn’t only tell a story, but also sends a very generalisable message about conflict between human beings, whether it is a large-scale 19th century scenario, or a small-scale one happening nowadays.