When asked what the secret to living a long life was, WWII hero Michael “Micky” Burn said “Always being in love, with either someone or something.”
Micky Burn lived his life according to this truth, by loving what he did and the people in his life with unapologetic enthusiasm.
In the documentary film Turned Towards the Sun, we get a glimpse into the life of a man whose life story is so extraordinary, you have to see it to believe it. Filmmaker Greg Olliver directed and produced his passion project that has been more than 7 years in the making. In 2009, Olliver and his film crew took Micky on a journey to revisit landmarks familiar to him from WWII, including St. Nazaire, the sight of a successful raid by the British Commandos on German-occupied France, and Colditz Castle in Germany, where Micky was held captive as a prisoner of war in 1945. In the film, Olliver expertly balances Micky’s WWII history with footage of Micky telling personal stories about his past, which are almost as unbelievable and harrowing as his tales of war.
Micky’s energy throughout the film is something to be admired. He is eager to go on this film-making adventure, he regales the stories of his past with passion, he reads sections of the beautiful poems he’s written over the years, and he jokes around with his friends until he cries laughing.
Greg Olliver gave this film a tone of relaxed familiarity; when you’re watching, you feel as if you’re spending time with your beloved grandfather — if you’re grandfather had lived through two world wars, served as a British Commando, spoken to Adolf Hitler, suffered societal sexual repression as a gay man, and lived through decade after decade of immense change during the 20th century.
This film is alternately heart-warming and heart-breaking. One scene shows Micky’s birthday party where he is surrounded by his friends. Micky was funny, warm, and light-hearted with a glimmer in his eye not common to a man almost a century old.
Unfortunately, Micky Burn passed away in 2010 at the age of 97. But Olliver’s film is a perfect way to pay tribute to a man whose life story couldn’t be replicated and will never be forgotten.