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A film with no spoken dialogue, just follows the music and lyrics of Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem, which include WWI soldier poet Wilfred Owen's poems reflecting the war's horrors. It shows the story of an Englishman soldier (Wilfred Owen) and a nurse (his bride) during World War I. It also includes actual footage of contemporary wars (WWII, Vietnam, Angola, etc.) Written by
Michel Rudoy <email@example.com>
Intermittently effective screen counterpart to Britten's Mass setting
With the exception of an opening sequence in which the music is introduced over a tolling bell and the text of Wilfred Owen's Strange Meeting read, this film follows the scheme of Britten's War Requiem, a poetry-expanded musical setting of the Requiem Mass. It's an intermittently effective project, Jarman using both narrative scenes and more abstracted tableaux that rely on the actor in frame to channel some sort of internal narrative. There is also scattered use of period footage from conflicts both pre-1963 (the date of the oratorio's composition) and as recently as the Falklands conflict (1981). All this is, in turn, the extrapolated daydream of a veteran of the Great War, played by Lawrence Olivier.
Olivier's is the almost the only scene done on location and really does carry weight for all that it's mere seconds of screen time. Other scenes are rather more mixed: given the huge emotional and indeed satirical charge of the music the most affecting set pieces are those that play a straight narrative. That said, there is undeniable charge in the formal composition of static shots which reflect in their old master/biblical referencing the liturgy of the text. 5/10
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