Langford Tales film tells moving story of village life and tragedy of war

'We all know about loss and respect but I think it’s quite rare to get an intimate insight from families who made the ultimate sacrifice'

By Joanna Gravett
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 3:17 pm
Updated Friday, 10th December 2021, 4:18 pm

A Langford editor has created a powerful film about the beauty of village life juxtaposed with the horrors of war.

Theo Maxilimilian Goble, 45, has captured a portrait in time during the 20th century before its generation disappears, as he documents tales of a 1920s childhood followed by the impact of war.

The result is his moving film, Langford Tales, which features stories about villagers past and present, and their families.

The Langford Tales poster and (right) Theo Goble. Images: Theo Goble.

Explaining why he made the film, Theo told the Chronicle: “I’ve been a professional editor for 25 years now, predominantly with the BBC.

“It’s always been a passion of mine, not just a job, so I wanted to make films on my own terms.

“I made one in 2010 about Icelandic people and how volcanic eruptions had affected their lives, and went to Kazakhstan in 2016 to interview people who had been interned in the 40s and 50s under Stalin.

“For this film, however, my wife suggested I did something closer to home…”

Ralph Turner. Image: Theo Goble.

As a villager himself, Theo had seen Facebook posts featuring old photos, with which “inevitably there were stories and anecdotes”.

This gave him the idea to film a piece about village history, and he reached out on social media seeking information and contributors.

Theo said: “Initially, I thought it would be a ten minute piece about when the church was built - but it turned into a two hour long feature length film!

“I interviewed Ralph Turner who was known as Mr Langford - he’d previously been chairman of the Parish Council in Langford, Editor of the Langford Diary and President of the History Society.

Credit: Langford and District History Society

“He’d grown up in Langford in the 20s and in the 40s he was called up during World War Two, making it to the beaches of Normandy and to Berlin.

“I know the war was dreadful - there was death and pain and bombs - but hearing the human stories that’s the most powerful to me for sure.”

Theo started the project in 2018, and spoke to many residents and families who were willing to share their stories.

He even contacted residents in Amsterdam to find out what had happened to a lady Ralph had stayed with during the war.

Credit: Langford and District History Society.

“There was a Dutch girl he met and he went back to see her in the early 50s.

“It’s such a beautiful and heartbreaking and amazing story. But I won’t give away what happens…” added Theo.

Although the pandemic made the interview process difficult, it did allow the editor to focus on the piece during evenings and weekends.

He finally finished the project the day before its first screening and has been delighted with the feedback so far.

Theo said: “It tells Ralph’s story and his journey going over to Europe, about evacuees arriving in Biggleswade, and bombs dropped on Langford common, but then it breaks away and there are stories about children in the village - it’s not just about war.

“The film is really engaging in that it uses music and beautiful camerawork to film the local area.”

Credit: Langford and District History Society.

Theo would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed to the piece, especially the local interviewees, families, and children.

He would also like to thank the Biggleswade Windfarm Community Fund for supporting the project and local farmer David Quinlan, who donated profits from his sunflower field to the cause.

Theo concluded: “Once a year we wear our poppies and most of us attend the services, but I think there’s a bit of detachment from some people, maybe the younger generation, who don’t really understand what it means.

“We all know about loss and respect but I think it’s quite rare to get an intimate insight from families who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Theo would also like to say thank you to Biggleswade composer Christos Andreou, who created the music for the film, to Biggleswade resident Linda Franklin, who was "a huge help" assisting Theo, and to his wife, Joanne Goble, without the support of whom "there would be no film".

A special thank you also goes to the Langford and District History Society and Biggleswade History Society for their donations of photographic/film archive.

Sadly, Ralph Turner died before the film was completed but Theo would like to say a big thank you to his family for their support.

Screenings of Langford Tales will take place in the village on December 11, 12,17, 18, 19, and tickets can be booked via the website. It will also be made available to the history societies and local schools.

To find out more and view the trailer, visit: https://www.langfordtales.com/

Credit: Langford and District History Society
Credit: Langford and District History Society.