Coward is a moving and insightful drama that takes us from the idyllic pastures of Ireland to the brutal and senseless trenches of the First World War, as Private Patterson tries to keep a family promise to look after his younger cousin. A promise that proves near impossible to fulfill in the relentless and hellish onslaught of the battlefields of 1917 Belgium. Courage and commitment collide in a story, inspired by real events, that underscores the tragic nature of war and illustrates how justice can often be a casualty of warfare. Written by
The plot is quite similar to Paths of Glory, but the telling is different. A short and effective statement on the brutality and senselessness of war, the inhuman treatment of soldiers, the callousness of commanders, and the ignorance of the time (which persists today), it does not spend time on melodrama or heroism as Paths of Glory did. It begins with an exposition set in Ireland to establish the character and humanity of its protagonist, the soldier whose life is on the line. This is dramatically different than the narrative created by using a more traditional "leading man" type protagonist like the one played by Kirk Douglas in Paths, and the film is more focused as a result.
The dispassionate presentation of the final scene and its lack of any scene to serve as epilogue reminded me more of Breaker Morant than Paths of Glory. But despite any similarities this film stands on its own two feet.
I highly recommend watching this short film. It's a great way to spend 30 minutes and it's posted on YouTube to watch for free, so if you're considering checking it out you really might as well.
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