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Testament of Youth (2014)

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A British woman recalls coming of age during World War I - a story of young love, the futility of war, and how to make sense of the darkest times.

Director:

James Kent

Writers:

Vera Brittain (autobiography), Juliette Towhidi (screenplay by)
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Popularity
4,884 ( 184)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alicia Vikander ... Vera Brittain
Taron Egerton ... Edward Brittain
Colin Morgan ... Victor Richardson
Dominic West ... Mr. Brittain
Emily Watson ... Mrs. Brittain
Kit Harington ... Roland Leighton
Joanna Scanlan ... Aunt Belle
Miranda Richardson ... Miss Lorimer
Rachel Redford ... Exam Candidate
Nicholas Farrell ... Headmaster
Daisy Waterstone ... Clare Leighton
Nicholas Le Prevost ... Mr. Leighton
Anna Chancellor ... Mrs. Leighton
Teresa Churcher ... Passenger
Xavier Atkins ... Boy on Bicycle
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Storyline

A long, long time ago, back in the spring of 1914, they were so happy together. There was Vera Brittain, an upper class girl with ideas of her own; and her bright brother Edward; and his group of friends among whom Roland Leighton, wonderful, handsome, sensitive Roland Vera had fallen for... Always having great times together talking, laughing, exchanging ideas, walking, eating, swimming together; all of them envisioning the glittering future they deserved: Vera, despite her father's opposition, would study at Oxford, marry Roland and be a famous writer; Roland, as for him, would be acclaimed as a great poet while Edward and his friends would each become a prominent figure in his respective field... But then came that fateful day on 4 August 1914 when Britain declared war on Germany. All those beautiful dreams were to be shattered one after the other. All except one: Vera wound up becoming a writer... A writer but a pacifist as well. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Divided by war. United by love.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

: Rated PG-13 for thematic material including bloody and disturbing war related images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Denmark

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

16 January 2015 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Testament of Youth See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$53,000, 7 June 2015

Gross USA:

$1,822,250

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,874,883
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Vera Brittain also worked as a nurse in Malta and the ship she was travelling on was almost sunk by a torpedo; the film omits this part of the book (presumably for time and budget constraints) See more »

Goofs

When Edward is playing the piano by himself, his arms and hands don't move in conjunction with the notes that we hear. See more »

Quotes

Miss Lorimer: Men go off to fight and we stay behind and knit.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, World War I guns can be heard in the background. See more »


Soundtracks

Silver Threads Among the Gold
Written by H.P. Danks & Eben E. Rexford
Performed by John McCormack
Source: Library and Archives
Canada/Silver Threads Among the Gold
1922/AMICUS 31399658
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A beautifully filmed adaptation
2 September 2015 | by eddie_bagginsSee all my reviews

Told from the rarely seen or heard from perspective of a female in the times of war, U.K author Vera Brittain's memoir Testament of Youth first published in 1933, has in the succeeding years become one of literature's most renowned memoirs and arguably the quintessential voice to the youth that found themselves in the midst of the world's first all-encompassing war. Such a renowned piece of history, so loved and well known by many, is a daunting prospect to adapt but first time feature film director James Kent has crafted an elegant and quietly devastating project that's acts as a touching tribute to Brittan's memory and her touching writings.

Filmed at a languid pace, now mostly foreign in modern day period adaptations, Kent and cinematographer Rob Hardy have crafted an artistic vision of Youth, perfectly encapsulating the wonders of walking a college ground, life on an old English manor or the sadness of a make shift medical ground that harbors the aftermath of life on the front line in World War 1. It's a beautifully filmed movie, every scene could be a painting and despite Youth's obvious budget constraints, there's never a moment here that makes one feel as though they're watching a film that is anything but high class. It's a credit to Kent, Hardy and also screenwriter Juliette Towhidi that they manage such a loaded and intelligent tale in the way they do and with a young, talented cast, Youth shines a light on some growing acting up and comers that will one day likely be members of the A-list.

I for one have not been quiet in my growing praise for young Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, and on the strength shown here by her as a leading lady, there is now another reason to suggest Vikander is likely to become one of our generation's greatest big screen talents. Imbuing Vera with a grace, vulnerability and a stern determination (much like the real life author), Vikander makes Vera her own, so much so it's hard to imagine anyone else taking on the role. Everyone's favourite GOT hero Jon Snow (Kit Harrington in real life) shows up here as Vera's first love Roland and while he shows glimmers, Harrington feels a little miscast here although against Vikander on such form, many would pale in comparison. Another impressive member of the cast is young actor Taron Egerton last seen as the Kingsman: Secret Service lead as Vera's brother Edward and after the strength shown by him in Kingsman, it's nice to see him back up that performance here.

A harrowing – without ever being manipulative look at the horrors of war, Testament of Youth is a considered and thoughtful examination of Vera Brittain's revered words and while the film does fail in certain instances (pacing sometimes an issue, fluidity also) the film is a handsomely crafted drama with some fantastic lead turns that will likely make it a new favourite to all those that prefer their BBC over the E Network or HBO.

4 unwanted pianos out of 5


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