Following the lives of a group of women whose husbands and partners served in Afghanistan, Military Wives is the feelgood film the world needs right now.
Many of us will have heard the emotional singles such as Wherever You Are and Sing released by the Military Wives Choir over the years. But the origins of the choir and its ascent to national renown is less well known. A new film starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan is about to change that, by delving into the story behind the choir and the women whose lives have been changed by it.
After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Military Wives is finally hitting UK screens today. Here’s everything you need to know about the amazing story.
Is Military Wives based on a true story?
It is! The film isn’t just based on a real choir, but the real story of how that choir came to be. The choir itself was thought up in 2010 by the wives of two Scots Guards at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire, who started up a poster campaign to recruit women and bring them together. The hope was that the choir would give them a focus beyond the fate of their husbands, but it grew to be so much more.
They reached out to Gareth Malone, and the celebrity choirmaster really helped them get the choir up and running by putting it on the fourth series of his television show, The Choir: Military Wives.
The Military Wives Choir is now a network of 75 separate choirs based at different military bases across the UK and abroad.
What was The Choir: Military Wives?
The Choir: Military Wives was a BBC Two programme that provided the nation with its first glimpse at how the Military Wives Choir developed as musicians and as friends. As with Malone’s other series, The Choir, this series sees the group of underconfident amateur singers become a unified choir. He also set up two new choirs in Devon and Plymouth during the series, nurturing them individually while expanding the Military Wives Choir network.
In the final episode, the Military Wives performed at the Royal Albert Hall for the Royal British Legion’s 2011 Festival of Remembrance. The single they performed, Wherever You Are, became that year’s Christmas number one.
Are the characters in Military Wives based on real people?
While the story the film is based on is real, its characters are fictional. Caroline Jopp was one of the original military wives back when the choir was first starting up, and like Kristin Scott Thomas’s character, was the wife of a commanding officer. But she has been keen to point out that in spite of any apparent similarities, the characters in the film are fictionalised and not directly based on any of the women.
Similarly, the interactions between the characters as well as some of the events featured in the film are not literal depictions.
Military Wives is out now in UK cinemas.
Image credit: Warner, Lionsgate