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Private Peaceful details the gritty rural lives and loves of Tommo and Charlie - two young brothers - and their poor Devonshire family from 1909 until 1916, when the outbreak of war destroys their country idyll. Both join up (one under age) leaving behind the beautiful Molly who is the love of both their lives. The young men survive gas attacks, shelling, German troops and the appalling deaths of their close friends. But one thing they cannot escape is summary military justice. Written by
Guy de Beaujeu
A beautiful portrayal of love and loyalty, this film gives a convincing insight into the lives at home and at war of young men in the First War. Key relationships are poignantly rendered, firstly between cocksure Charlie Peaceful and his sensitive and introspective brother Tommo. Their relationship with their father is particularly moving as well, as is their mutual love for their friend Molly. One thing that stands out for me is the authenticity of the film's portrayal of their acceptance of each other, of one sibling's 'conquest' of Molly, and of the relative poverty of their situation as fatherless farm-boys - although the outbursts of politicised rebellion in this respect are also convincing, if not when blurted out to the landowner who is bizarrely drinking in the public bar with the lads. This is indeed one of several anachronisms in the film (along with unrealistic woodcutting of the forester and the strangely silent field hospital), but these do not undermine what is otherwise a deeply moving portrayal of an everyday tragedy.
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