Battle of Britain Film
The world knows him best as the celluloid comedian whose artistic contribution to the planet so far amounts to a cast of zany, politically incorrect characters including Wayne Campbell, a basement-dwelling, mullet-wearing metal-head, and Austin Powers, the sex-crazed International Man of Mystery.
But Mike Myers, who also gave us the voice of the fearless ogre Shrek, may yet have other, more cerebral gifts to bequeath. The Toronto-born actor and filmmaker turns out to have also a serious creative side, one that for many years has harboured dreams about making a thoughtful Second World War movie.
“I have attempted a screenplay about the Battle of Britain,” said Myers in a 2005 interview from
“I don't know if I'm the guy to do this, but it would be interesting if there was ever a Saving Private Ryan/Bridge Too Far/Longest Day equivalent of the
Myers possibly knows more about the Second World War than any actor in
His passion for the subject developed, like much of his comedy, in the company of his parents Eric and Alice, with whom he grew up in middle-class Scarborough on the sprawling edges of
Eric sold encyclopedias for a living and
Eric, who died in 1991, left his home in
“Of all the services, the Royal Engineers required the most amount of improvisation,” says Myers, "and this was a skill my father valued a lot after the war — the ability to improvise — what he called ‘jerryrigging.’
“As a result, my dad could make a cup of tea anywhere — like on a radiator or something. And he was pretty good about looking at an engine, and anything that needed to be hit with a stick to get it going again, he could do.”
Alice Myers joined the Royal Air Force during the war, working at radar stations in the south of
“You know those World War Two movies where they have a perspex map of
Alice, who now lives in
After the war, Myers' parents met and married in Liverpool — parts of which had been obliterated by German bombers — and lived through the food rationing of the post-war years, before moving to
Transformed by War
Myers says the war transformed his parents, and instilled in them the importance of teaching its lessons to their children.
“Both my mom and my father were very respectful of the higher purpose of fighting the bad guys,” he says. “They called it ‘fighting the fascists.’ It was a big thing for them, they really believed in the cause.
“I remember my father telling me about the Holocaust when I was about 10. He said: 'There will be very very bad people who will tell you that this never happened, but I want you to know that this absolutely happened — that's what we fought for,'" recalls Myers.
“I have to admire my parents’ generation for saying, ‘You know, it doesn’t look good, the Germans are very strong, but guess what? The Nazis are bad people, with a bad system, and we ain’t giving up.’
“That spirit of saying no to bullies is something I have tremendous respect for.” Myers admits his films haven't yet tapped into his deep passion for the subject, although he suspects his parents' pride for British gadgets and wartime ingenuity — breaking the Enigma code, for example — may have manifested itself in the spy-world spoof of Austin Powers.
“I have enormous gratitude to the World War Two generation, and I would like to think their sacrifice is never forgotten,” he says. “But truthfully, the movie that's a salute to that generation who stood up to the Nazis — I have not made that movie yet.”