‘The Shepherd’ Ending Explained & Short Movie Summary: Who Saved Freddie?

As far as short films go, the good ones are those that have just a single plot line and do not complicate things by adding other superfluous things to embellish the narrative. The new short film The Shepherd is an example of such a film. Based on the novella of the same name by Frederick Forsyth, The Shepherd is an evocative short film that rekindles our faith in miracles. The Shepherd is a Christmas story directed by Iain Softley and stars John Travolta and Steven Mackintosh. Miracles of Christmas are well known in cinema, and the heartwarming tales serve as a great reminder of the importance of not losing hope, as help might be just around the corner. Mixing the festive spirit with an important story about the brave pilots of World War 2, The Shepherd becomes a tale about sacrifice as well. All of it is done in a seamless manner, and the rosy beginning of the short film doesn’t let us guess where the film is heading, keeping us engaged throughout. Travolta’s entry is especially cheerful as he is a movie star and a fantastic actor; he comes into the movie at a point where all hope is lost, and he becomes the beacon of hope and a proof of the mysterious nature of the universe.

Spoilers Ahead


Was Freddie Headed Home?

On Christmas day in 1957, Freddie, the good-mannered pilot, was on the phone, and by what he told his mother, he was going to come home two weeks later. But then later, he was ready to leave RAF Celle and land near home, implying he was indeed going back. His mother would be the happiest to see him back, but Freddie wanted to meet Lizzie, the love of his life. There were others who weren’t going back on Christmas, but Freddie had gotten clearance. The weather was clear, and Freddie was sure there would be no problems with him making that journey back home. a sixty-minute flight, and he would meet Lizzie! Freddie wanted to call Lizzie, trying to inform her that he was coming back, but he was disturbed by the operator, who simply wanted him to get on his Vampire, the plane model, and land on the other side of the sea. 


Who Saved Freddie?

The officer had told Freddie that they would be closing the base after Freddie left. They had just wrapped up the Christmas party, and everybody was going to leave the base. Freddie didn’t think for a moment that his plane would malfunction, leaving him in a spot of trouble. But that’s what happened. Over the sea, suddenly, the compass gave away. Then there were fuel troubles, and Freddie looked at the nearest RAF base to land his plane. The most frightening thing was that there was dense incoming fog, as if attacking the plane out of the blue. This was supposed to be a clear night, and the appearance of the fog was almost instantaneous. It was all supposed to go smoothly for him, but nothing was going right for Freddie. He began contacting the base for assistance, and his fear was that he would have to initiate an emergency landing in the sea before help arrived, which could lead to his death. There wasn’t much he could do in the fog except fly in circles, hoping somebody would pick up the unusual flight pattern on the radar and send immediate help. Hopeless, he had started to write farewell notes to Lizzie and his family in case he died. Thinking of nothing else, Freddie prayed to God and witnessed the aurora borealis in front of him. Suddenly, Freddie saw something, which gave him hope. There was another plane flying beside him, and perhaps he was there to help. Freddie told him that his fuel was almost over and he needed immediate assistance. The other pilot knew that Freddie wasn’t going to reach the base he was aiming for with the remaining fuel. He knew of another closed base that had been turned into a storage depot, but it had a runway. It was nearby, and Freddie could survive. Freddie, out of wits, just blindly followed the pilot’s instructions and landed safely on the RAF Minton’s runway. A car arrived, and an old man showed him around, telling him that it was a miracle that he found the runway of a base that hadn’t been operational for over ten years.


Was Any Of It Real?

Inside the old man’s home, he saw the pilot’s photograph, who had saved his life just a few moments ago. He was astonished, and he told the old man about this coincidence. The old man was shocked to hear that and claimed that it was impossible, as the man in the photo was John Kavanagh, one of the finest pilots in the Pathfinder Squadron, who was last seen on Christmas of 1943. He went to save a pilot in dense fog and never returned. He was suspected of having crashed in the North Sea and died. Freddie was amazed to hear about it. How could it be? Was the old man crazy, or had he witnessed a ghost? Was it all a miracle? Freddie rushed outside to find the plane in the sky, but before he could do that, two men arrived and told him that they had seen him heading towards RAF Miriam, but they lost his location while he landed in Minton.

Freddie, discombobulated, could only blurt out that he was helped by a pilot, and he was the one who helped him land on the runway of Minton. Then he told them about the old man, who had claimed that he was Kavanagh’s batman during World War 2. The two men could only look at Freddie like he had lost his marbles. They told him that the place had been abandoned ever since the war, and there couldn’t be any old man. Freddie felt it was all too inexplicable to even try to fathom. What mattered was that he was alive. So did Kavanagh really exist? Yes, certainly. And he did come to help Freddie. It was a Christmas miracle, indeed. Kavanagh was known to be part of a group of helper pilots known as the “Shepherds,” who helped pilots in distress. It was God’s mysterious way of making both of them meet. Maybe it was Kavanagh’s last wish—to help one last pilot find his way home. Surely, Freddie had a tale to tell his family and Lizzie. His Christmas had just begun.


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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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