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2 items from 1998


Film review: 'Regeneration' "Regeneration" was originally reviewed Feb. 4 at the Nortel Palm Springs International Film Festival. Alliance Releasing opens the film today in New York and Los Angeles.

14 August 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Based on English author Pat Barker's acclaimed 1991 novel, "Regeneration" is a searingly profound drama about shell-shocked soldiers in World War I receiving psychological treatment with the goal of returning them to the front.

Well-received in Palm Springs and eminently worthy of distribution, the English-Canadian production features outstanding performances by lead Jonathan Pryce and a trio of sterling supporting players -- James Wilby, Jonny Lee Miller and Stuart Bunce -- as well as superb direction by Gillies MacKinnon and a terrific script by seasoned veteran Allan Scott ("Don't Look Now", "In Love and War" and many others).

For centuries, the rallying cry of soldiers in harm's way was "dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country). But the apocalyptic conflict raging in 1917, when the movie takes place, is nothing but a massive slaughter that profoundly affects anyone who takes part in it -- even if they interact only with the wounded survivors.

Set mainly in the soggy climes of Scotland, where British officers and ordinary soldiers are brought to Edinburgh's Craiglockart Hospital to recover from the horrors of trench warfare, "Regeneration" opens with a stunning overhead shot of a muddy battlefield littered with the dead and dying.

The film is a stirring, mostly true anti-war story that leaves one moved and angered by the inhumanity of political and ideological forces that reduce individuals to so much cannon fodder.

A kind and empathetic professional, Dr. William Rivers (Pryce) pursues hypnosis as a cure for his patients, even if the method is not always successful. In a scene late in the film, he takes a much-needed break and observes the practices of a rival (David Hayman), who uses shock therapy. It's a vicious continuation of the cruelty, and Rivers is not converted. On the verge of his own nervous breakdown, he begins to seriously question the official practice of "regenerating" the poor souls in his care.

Wilby ("Howards End") is noble but aloof as the aristocratic poet Siegfried Sassoon, who refuses to acknowledge that he's a war hero and goes through with the unthinkable: a public denouncement of the war as a terrible crime perpetrated and prolonged by the European ruling classes. Rivers knows his duty, but he's sympathetic to some degree with Wilby and tries to dissuade him from going further with a protest that will most likely result in a court-martial.

As gentle poet Wilfred Owen, Bunce ("First Knight") draws one into the creative world his character shares with Sassoon, an unfriendly bloke who encourages the novice writer to create such masterpieces as "Anthem for Doomed Youth". Equally memorable, Miller ("Trainspotting") has potent screen presence as Prior.

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Film review: 'Regeneration'

4 February 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Based on English author Pat Barker's acclaimed 1991 novel, "Regeneration" is a searingly profound drama about shell-shocked soldiers in World War I receiving psychological treatment with the goal of returning them to the front.

Well-received at the Nortel Palm Springs International Film Festival and eminently worthy of distribution, the English-Canadian production features outstanding performances by lead Jonathan Pryce and a trio of sterling supporting players -- James Wilby, Jonny Lee Miller and Stuart Bunce -- as well as superb direction by Gillies MacKinnon and a terrific script by seasoned veteran Allan Scott ("Don't Look Now", "In Love and War" and many others).

For centuries, the rallying cry of soldiers in harm's way was "dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country). But the apocalyptic conflict raging in 1917, when the movie takes place, is nothing but a massive slaughter that profoundly affects anyone who takes part in it -- even if they interact only with the wounded survivors.

Set mainly in the soggy climes of Scotland, where British officers and ordinary soldiers are brought to Edinburgh's Craiglockart Hospital to recover from the horrors of trench warfare, "Regeneration" opens with a stunning overhead shot of a muddy battlefield littered with the dead and dying.

The film is a stirring, mostly true anti-war story that leaves one moved and angered by the inhumanity of political and ideological forces that reduce individuals to so much cannon fodder.

A kind and empathetic professional, Dr. William Rivers (Pryce) pursues hypnosis as a cure for his patients, even if the method is not always successful. In a scene late in the film, he takes a much-needed break and observes the practices of a rival (David Hayman), who uses shock therapy. It's a vicious continuation of the cruelty, and Rivers is not converted. On the verge of his own nervous breakdown, he begins to seriously question the official practice of "regenerating" the poor souls in his care.

Wilby ("Howards End") is noble but aloof as the aristocratic poet Siegfried Sassoon, who refuses to acknowledge that he's a war hero and goes through with the unthinkable: a public denouncement of the war as a terrible crime perpetrated and prolonged by the European ruling classes. Rivers knows his duty, but he's sympathetic to some degree with Wilby and tries to dissuade him from going further with a protest that will most likely result in a court-martial.

As gentle poet Wilfred Owen, Bunce ("First Knight") draws one into the creative world his character shares with Sassoon, an unfriendly bloke who encourages the novice writer to create such masterpieces as "Anthem for Doomed Youth". Equally memorable, Miller ("Trainspotting") has potent screen presence as Prior.

REGENERATION

Rafford Films, Norstar Entertainment,

BBC Films, Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund

Director: Gillies MacKinnon

Producers: Allan Scott, Peter R. Simpson

Screenwriter: Allan Scott

Based on the novel by: Pat Barker

Executive producers: Saskia Sutton, Mark Shivas

Director of photography: Glen Macpherson

Production designer: Andy Harris

Costume designer: Kate Carin

Casting: Sarah Trevis

Color/stereo

Cast:

Dr. William Rivers: Jonathan Pryce

Siegfried Sassoon: James Wilby

Billy Prior: Jonny Lee Miller

Wilfred Owen: Stuart Bunce

Sarah: Tanya Allen

Dr. Bryce: David Hayman

Running time -- 113 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

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2 items from 1998


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