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Walter's War (2008)

TV Movie  |   |  Biography, Drama, War  |  9 November 2008 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 44 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

The substantially true story of Walter Tull, a black man whose grandfather was a slave but who was born in Folkestone, Kent, in England, and who, in the years prior to the First World War, ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Tull
Lieutenant Harper
Young Soldier
Kwame Kwei-Armah ...
Daniel Tull
Glen Shaw ...
Young Walter
Chris Young ...
Young Edward
Julian Forsyth ...
Reverend Dr Stevenson
Edward Tull
Ewan Stewart ...
Sergeant Fuller
Dugald Bruce Lockhart ...
Captain Coombes
Private Oswald Hennessey
Christian Roe ...
Private William Cooper
Chris Starkie ...
Private Sebastian Willis
Hamish MacDougall ...
Private Christopher Hummins
Jonathan Cullen ...
Lieutenant Colonel Baxter


The substantially true story of Walter Tull, a black man whose grandfather was a slave but who was born in Folkestone, Kent, in England, and who, in the years prior to the First World War, was a professional football player for Tottenham Hotspur. However, despite the odd flashback the film focuses solely on his prowess in the war. In 1916 he is a non-commissioned officer, heroically attempting to save comrades and is recommended for training as an officer at a military school in Scotland where he encounters prejudice because of his colour, as well as impressing and dating a local girl. His single-mindedness and desire to be the best impresses the fair-minded Captain Coombes and he ultimately attains his commission. However, he is killed in 1918 and a postscript informs us that, whilst he was recommended for the Military Cross, it was never bestowed upon him. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | War





Release Date:

9 November 2008 (UK)  »

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User Reviews

A basic, one-dimensional script starts the rot and the performances finish it
18 November 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Sometimes I hate not getting the first review on a smaller title because you lose the opportunity to say things first. Sometimes it is made worse when the first reviewer gets it so right or, as is the case here, nails it on the head with his summary line. So it is here with the review with the heading "Your favourite racial struggle clichés and World War One clichés, together at last!" which is bang on the money. I watched this because I had never heard of the man and thought this film might be my chance to find out what was worth knowing beyond that he was a professional footballer who served in the war and that (and you'll be shocked here) he struggled to be respected due to the colour of his skin.

Well, OK that much I could have guessed so there must be something else that makes this story worth the special focus. Well, if there is then it is not brought out here as Casualty's Kwei-Armah's script feels like it started life as a load of clichés that are then filled in with words. In fairness the opening credits inform us that not much is recorded about Tull other than memories and perhaps it is no surprise that there isn't much specific in the film. This is a bit of a problem when attempting an historical piece but at the same time ti gives you massive scope when doing the writing. Sadly Kwame is not able to do much with this. His Tull is nothing short of perfection and bears his struggles with pride and an air that puts the others to shame. Now I'm not suggesting that Kwame shouldn't go down this road but I do have an issue with just how damn one-dimensional the whole affair is. The script feels like it was the first draft where basic events and characters are laid out but with the detail or development yet to do – except in this case that first draft turned out to be the final one as well. Maybe Tull deserved more – we'll never know because the script is so lame that you never care for the man or his struggles. It is quite a failure considering how many stories have successfully done the "overcoming prejudice" thing.

It doesn't help the film that Fagbenle gives a characterless, colourless, humourless drip of a performance. Serious, you might as well have had a hand-puppet in the title role because he brings little to this. I cannot believe he is really as weak as he was here so I'll be generous and say that the director perhaps told him what to do based on the bland material – hence the material is bland and just ticks the "worthy struggle" boxes. The director should also carry blame for the construct of the piece. Lazy flashbacks of war etc are just so obvious that they hurt. The supporting cast are a collection of stuffy white men who are either a) shocked by this "negro" or b) won over by Tull's dignity – that's it. In fairness it is no surprise that these characters are this way considering how basic the main character is.

Walter's War is a basic, obvious and dull affair that feels like a first draft got submitted by mistake. Like Kwame's other attempt at writing that I have seen it has little in the way of subtlety or depth and as a result the direction and the performances are basic and lacking anything of interest. Not worth the time.

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