My Boy Jack (TV Movie 2007) Poster

(2007 TV Movie)

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9/10
Superb television
mhandsley200112 November 2007
Excellent cast, beautifully shot and well scripted TV movie about the Kipling family at the start of the First World War. Premiered in the UK on Remembrance Day (11/11) this poignant tale has Daniel Radcliffe in the title role, showing once again (after his on stage appearance in Equus) that there's more to this young actor than the caricature that Harry Potter has become. His clipped and stilted performance completely captured what it must have been like to be the put upon son of a successful, middle-class author in late Edwardian England.

David Haig plays Rudyard Kipling (there's a remarkable resemblance) who many will remember from previous UK TV series 'Thin Blue Line' and 'Soldier Soldier' as well as the massively successful 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. Haig captures the British Imperialist that Kipling had become perfectly, as well as the emotional turmoil that Kipling went through as he realised just what he had helped to achieve by sending his young son to war. Haig also wrote the original play and screenplay so the resulting TV movie must be pretty much what he wanted.

The supporting players, Kim Catterill as Rudyard's American wife, and Martin McCann as the Irish Guardsman who goes to war with young John to name two, give excellent, measured performances which compliment the two lead roles, giving the whole production a rounded, glossy finish.

This is superb TV catch it if you can (but don't forget the hankies!)
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8/10
Made for TV movie thats better than most cinema
BazBaz00112 November 2007
My Boy Jack is a made for TV movie starring Daniel Radcliffe as Rudyard Kipling's son Jack as a teenager preparing for "The Great war" (WW1). Shown on Remembrance Day, here in the uk on terrestial TV (ITV1), it is a timely reminder of what people of different classes and backgrounds went through and the very different attitudes compared to today (..and some similar ones). It is well written and acted with a good pace and shows the character's as well rounded. I have never seen any of the Harry Potter movies (not my type of thing) so it was nice to see Radcliffe in action and very good he was too. This movie is a lot better than a lot of films at the cinema and for awhile you can still catch it on ITV.COM for free (Don't know how long it will be there) Definitely worth a watch!
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9/10
Lest We Forget
lasscalledlaura11 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I was very impressed, an excellent and highly sensitive production that documents the famous author Rudyard Kipling's efforts to gain his heavily short sighted son John (Jack) Kipling an officer's commission in the armed forces.

I was impressed by the acting on all accounts, particularly David Haig, and his and Kim Catrell's interaction as husband and wife is notably natural and moving. Daniel Radcliff also performed well. Many have doubted his skill as an actor, I like many have never been overwhelmed by his performances in the Harry Potter films, but I have never been his severest critic either, believing much of his defiances to be due to weak screenplays. His performance here - with far better material to work with - stands up well to scrutiny, as he manages to project a sensitive combination of youthful ambition, the upper classes belief that they were the natural leader of the common man, and the basic fear of war and death. To those who have scorned at his casting, I can think of no other actor who would be able to draw the attention of the younger generations to such a subject.

It must be noted that the quality of this production was superb, with trench life realistically recreated to the extent that it was shown. The contrasting camera work between the home and trench environment, may seem obvious but it was skillfully done, creating the right tensions between circumstances, without making you feel nauseous. The locations, costumes, set e.t.c were unnoticeable in the best possible way, in the sense that nothing jarred on your mind or felt modernized or out of place. Again this may seem an obvious comment but often period pieces (unfortunatly often produced by ITV) fall into this trap.

Above all this though, what impressed me most was how skillfully 'My Boy Jack' portrayed attitudes to war.

It manages to portray realistically the proactive and enthusiastically patriotic attitudes to war and empire that were predominant within the middle and upper classes in the Edwardian era. The vigor with which this is done is impressive as it would easy to dilute such attitudes for the modern pallet, especially considering Rudyard Kipling's popularity as a children's author. This attitude is combined superbly with Rudyard's disillusionment after his son's death. His personal grief and guilt jars movingly against his empire ideals, which he clearly clings onto in a belief that his son was doing his duty for a cause he believed in. It is an internal conflict which I'm sure holds just as much resonance for todays soldiers and their families.
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10/10
Masterpieces are rare, but every so often a film such as this comes along and delivers.
i_aint_your_pimp11 November 2007
Masterpieces are rare, but every so often a film such as this comes along and delivers.

The story is of the son of the famous writer Rudyard Kipling during the first world war. Jingosim is the main subject of this story and Rudyard Kipling transformational arc on his views of sending his son to war.

Despite this being made for TV its at a standard that puts many blockbusters to shame, The screenplay is impeccable and the performances astounding. David Haig as Rudyard Kipling is perfect. Daniel Radcliffe despite being the famous face of Harry Potter makes the role his own as Jack. And Kim Cattrall proves shes more than being the slutty one from Sex And The City.

Thought provoking and emotional without being Cliché i feel i cannot give this film anything but a perfect score, a truly beautiful film.

I hope this film receives the attention it deserves.
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8/10
Very True-to-Life Portrayal
de_niro_200117 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The presence of young Mr Radcliffe in the cast would naturally draw high viewing figures. Just like Ms Catrall he's inextricably associated with another role but he shows that he is a very good actor in this production. It shows what a terrible waste war is. After Jack failed his medical for the Navy Rudyard Kipling went to great lengths to get his son into the Army. Like many parents at the beginning of the First World War he was very proud of his son going off to fight for King and Country. But nothing could compensate him for the loss of his son. It is very sad where Rudyard Kipling is telling the wee lad the story about him and Jack as Bengal Lancers and then he can't continue because he's too sad. This was very appropriate viewing for Remembrance Sunday. It prompted me to dig out one of my old Blue Peter annuals which had a feature on a Blue Peter Special Assignment on Bateman's, Rudyard Kipling's house where quite a lot of this was filmed. I thought Kim Cattrall was unusual casting for this production but the Blue Peter annual told me that his wife was American! The family had moved to Bateman's because of the death of their eldest child Josephine and their previous home, The Elms, was too much associated with her. Kipling had more than his fair share of heartbreak. Arguably My Boy Jack makes good family viewing and there's no doubt many children watched it for the reason I gave above. Harry Potter has definitely brought about an upsurge in kids reading and I hope some will be prompted to read Kipling's stories rather than watch DVDs of the Disney version of the Jungle Book which definitely would not have been endorsed by Kipling. I'd also recommend The Man Who Would Be King which is in fact a story by Kipling, not just a great film with Sean Connery. David Haig gives a great performance as Kipling and he's better than Christopher Plummer in The Man Who Would Be King. He is good in the scene where he is telling the local children the story of How The Rhino Got His Skin (a story I can remember my teacher at primary school reading to the class and it was one I liked). Anyway, an excellent play.
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8/10
Thought provoking hopeless tragedy
Lucy Lou11 November 2007
I found his very interesting, not least because it fascinated me, one who generally finds programs about war repetitive, distasteful and untrue of reality. This film seemed so hopeless because you know he has no chance but really it is not about the boy in many ways, it is about the father and his conviction and his choking pride that takes precedence in the film. Daniel Radcliffe, unfortunately, did not play a totally convincing role as Jack, the son, but since he was much younger and far less experienced in the world of serious acting I think he was simply out performed.

The main character of the film was Rudyard Kipling and everything you feel is aimed at his loss and guilt for pushing his son to do something where he was destined to underachieve in, due to his "disability" (poor eyesight). I think this rigid but heartfelt performance was brilliant. The score was orchestral and built up atmosphere and sadness throughout, while the camera-work was inventive, intuitive and well shot throughout, including some rather experimental frames.

I think that the film as a whole really captured the feeling of grief and guilt that many must have felt at that time, the sense of irretrievable loss of something so precious. I think this is a great achievement as a film. I recommend anyone should see it who is interested in any aspects of film, it gives its best in all areas.
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10/10
Superb drama, great acting
ktvalve12 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not a fan of the Harry Potter films and in all honesty don't know to much about Daniel but after watching this moving film I have to say I was very impressed with young Daniel's acting.As someone else said ,the last 30 minutes of the film were very sad .David Haig also gave a great performance as Jack's father Rudyard Kipling ,as you watched ,it was heart breaking seeing him pushing his boy through the medicals with his poor sight knowing that Jack would be killed. This is the sort of thing the BBC used to make but now its left to ITV to make real drama.The battle scenes are very realistic ,as the men await the order to go over the top ,the fear and terror they feel is highlighted brilliantly without much speech .A fantastic film which shows the horror of war better than most.
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9/10
"Masterpiece" of a war movie
George Wright23 March 2009
I have been viewing Masterpiece Theatre for many years and I have trouble thinking of one episode that surpasses the excellence of this production.

The main actors all give great performances in this story of how Rudyard Kipling, poet laureate and a member of an important government war committee, persuaded the authorities to enlist his son Jack despite failing two health examinations because of his poor eyesight. The rest of the movie deals with the dilemma that never seemed to cross Kipling's mind: what moral responsibility would he bear if anything happened to his much-loved son?

As we see in the run-up to the declaration of war, Kipling was a fervent supporter of taking on the "Huns". In the commentary following the film, we learn that he never served his country on the battlefield. Instead, he put his expectations on his son Jack. The scenes from the Great War tell the horror of the conditions in the rat-infested trenches as soldiers coped with open wounds in the rain and the mud. Then cutaway to the Kipling home in pastoral English setting...the contrast is vivid.

Kipling's wife (Kim Cattrall) and daughter (Carey Mulligan)are extremely upset at the prospect of John "Jack" Kipling going off to war. Daniel Radcliffe performs the role of the dutiful son who also proved to be more than a capable leader of the young men in his charge. Martin McCann, who plays the soldier Bowe who saw the younger Kipling die in battle, gives an extraordinary performance when he visits the Kipling estate to tell the story of Jack's death.

A very noteworthy scene takes place at the end of the movie when Kipling visits George V, the reigning monarch, and a personal friend. In this scene, the King expresses his sympathy to Kipling and then mentions that his own son recently died. This is a reference to the youngest child of George V and Queen Mary, who was an epileptic, and died suddenly following a seizure. This event was treated quietly by the press at the time. However, whether or not this meeting happened, it is an interesting side-bar to the movie, with the King and his poet laureate sharing their grief.

I have always been interested in the story of Jack Kipling from the time I read a newspaper article about how a Canadian who worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was able to locate the burial plot of Jack Kipling towards the end of the 20th century, many decades after he died. This was something the Kipling family had tried in vain to find.

For me, this movie adds an extra dimension to that story and to the ongoing cinematic treatment of a war that is now almost 100 years ago.
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9/10
Very moving, but slightly inaccurate
kaaber-27 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"My Boy Jack" is the second film that successfully portrays Kipling as a character - Huston's "The Man Who Would Be King" being the first. Whereas Huston's film was a great allegory of the British Raj or empire-making in general, "My Boy Jack" relates the writer's personal tragedy at the death of his only son who died at Loos in 1915, and in what was called "the Great War" back in the days when no one knew that a greater still was shortly to come. The tragedy was compounded by the fact that Kipling had used his influence to get Jack into the Irish Guards in spite of a medical examination which Jack failed due to poor eyesight inherited from his father.

The film is more than brilliantly acted by scriptwriter David Haig (Kipling), Kim Cattrall (Carrie Kipling), Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter graduated from Hogsworth to play Jack) and Carey Mulligan (Elsie Kipling), but it sets out to paint a slightly hindsighty and overly pacifist picture of what actually occurred. David Haig's screenplay shows us a family at war with each other, with the boy almost pressurized by his father to join the army (after he fails the Navy examination), and it shows Carrie and Elsie openly blaming Kipling for Jack's death in scenes that are more reminiscent of a modern day soap opera than a portrait of the clear-sighted Kipling and his staunch and ever-supportive American wife.

There is a faint odor of post-Vietnam pacifism over the entire film, although never too explicit and always clashing with the stark realities of WWI that are also duly included: that Britain simply could not allow Germany and Austria to run rampant across Europe. Action was indeed called for, and there was no doubt about it, for, as Orwell once put it: pacifists are the objective allies of tyrants.

Kipling has been called a jingoist and warmonger (a title later ascribed to Churchill whose similar stand would save Europe from the Germans some twenty years later) and Kipling has been called an imperialist – but mainly by people who fail to understand his writings or, indeed, haven't read them. Kipling did not change his view of war or of the empire after the death of his son, he was always a realist – although a subtle one – and remained so.

The film ends with a very fine and subtle dialog between Kipling and George V. The king relates the death of his own young son. The film lets George V find the body of the prince, still warm, which he counts a blessing – this forms a heartrending contrast to Kipling who never recovered the body of his son at all, but there is yet another contrast in the deaths of the two sons when Kipling quotes his poem "My Boy Jack" that closes the film, indicating his small comfort found in the fact that John Kipling gave his life to a worthy cause in an ultimately inevitable war: "Then hold your head up all the more, this tide and every tide; because he was the son you bore and gave to that wind blowing and that tide."
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10/10
A Story. Just So.
starrywisdom24 April 2008
As a Kipling fan from the age of 8, 50 years and more ago now, I was knocked out by "My Boy Jack." David Haig, as writer and actor, is beyond brilliance, and though I found Daniel Radcliffe a bit stiff and modern, he too was excellent.

Kim Cattrall: surprisingly good. But I was totally distracted by her American pretending to be English pretending to be American bizarre accent. Let her use her natural speech (and yes, I know she was born and spent time in England) or else hire a good dialogue coach.

Though the whole production was gorgeous (Bateman's!) and moving in its interrelationships, the bookending of the scenes with friends King George V and Rud just tore my heart out. The King having just lost a "boy Jack" of his own (young Prince John, an epileptic, subject of another fantastic Masterpiece series, "The Lost Prince", some years ago), Rudyard recites the poem he wrote for his Jack. I sobbed through the whole recital, and was still weeping when I went to sleep a few hours later. Staggeringly wondrous. And cathartic in the sense in which all tragedies should be. Fine, fine work by all concerned.
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8/10
Heartbreaking
AgedInWood21 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I watched My Boy Jack last night on U.S. Masterpiece Theatre. I appreciated not only the timeliness of the subject, but the tender story of the short life of John "Jack" Kipling, the son of poet Rudyard Kipling. Jack is played by Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame and it is a role perfectly suited to his age. Jack is a young man seeking his independence. Caught up in the patriotic fervor of his friends and neighbors going off to the war known as The Great War, Jack also wants to serve. His problem is that he has terrible eyesight and cannot get into any branch of the service until his renown father steps in to assist.

David Haig wrote My Boy Jack as a play in 1997 and portrayed Rudyard Kipling on stage and again in this television film. He did an outstanding job on both fronts and it is uncanny how much he resembles Kipling. His depiction of Kipling is in keeping with a well to do man of the early 20th century - stoic in matters of war, interested in his family but detached emotionally. Rudyard encourages Jack to get into the war and finds him a commissioned position in the Army leaving Rudyard's wife and daughter at a loss to understand why.

Jack overcomes his vision problems and succeeds at a boot camp that hastily prepares the next crop of men for war. His social status grants him the position of Lieutenant and as an officer he commands a troop that is sent to France. Ironically, as Jack struggles to become his own man, he must get his father's written permission to ship out to France as he is just shy of the legal age of 18.

I am astounded by the chaos and devastation that is relayed during war briefings that Rudyard attends. Casualty statistics are given and they are unbelievable – literally thousands die in one battle, often in one day. World War I was a gruesome war in so many ways but especially so because these soldiers were at a crossroads, fighting with traditional tactics in the face of modern weaponry that cut them to ribbons.

There is no doubt that in order to have war you need to have three types of people in your service, those who make a career of it, those who romanticize the cause and their obligation, and those who seek to escape. Jack, as with many young men, comprises both the second and third types. He has left his boyhood and his family to become a man. He is aware of the long odds of surviving the war despite his father assuring him that he would come through it. He is honor bound to serve his King and country.

And so young Jack, celebrates his eighteenth birthday in France, bravely leads his troop into battle and tragically dies. Declared to be missing in action, his family searches for him to no avail and at last, piece together Jack's final hours through the stories of surviving soldiers who were there. His parents are devastated and Rudyard, looking for comfort, says that Jack would not have felt pain and so he was lucky. In response, Jack's mother movingly encapsulates Jack's death saying that there is nothing lucky about dying alone in the rain.

My heart goes out to all families who have endured such loss. The story of Jack Kipling tells of one of the millions of sons who have died at war, all equally important to those who loved them and far less important to those who view them as expendable.

Jack's body was not recovered by his family. His father died nearly twenty years later as his beloved country was on the brink of World War II.
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9/10
Family, war, and patriotism
kepereyra1 July 2008
I don't remember why I added this to my DVR; sometimes I go on a PBS binge and record all kinds of "edifying" material. From the little summary on the DVR screen, I expected a family-conflict drama mixed in with some heroic war scenes and rousing patriotism.

It did have rousing patriotism, family conflict, and heroic war scenes, yet it was not at all what I expected. When the film finished I could see past and future echoes of this family, of all families who send a son or daughter to war. Somewhere in America today there are parents just like Mr. and Mrs. Kipling in the film, and there have been for generations past.

This is a movie to see when your everyday grind has sapped your humanity.
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10/10
Your Boy Jack (SPOILERS)
stormy_daze7 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
My field of history is generally limited to the Mediaeval era or before, and I rarely do the war movies.

That said, this film caught my attention from the effervescant Carrie Mulligan (Elsie) and Daniel Radcliffe, along with the fabulous David Haig (Kipling) and Kim Cattrall (Caroline). Saw the previews on ITV and it looked visually striking -- enough to catch my attention. I love a film that is done right.

The casting is fantastic -- not a shred of Harry Potter in Dan Radcliffe's portrayal of the title character Jack.

I understand this flick is coming to the USA in April. I'm so glad ITV is out there to make stuff like this, and I hope it did well enough to keep doing quality projects in the future. I hope it will do well in the US -- but it's worth it. This is truly the best made for TV film I've seen in ages.

Visually, this flick is beautiful -- great camera angles, wonderful scenery, and a real attempt to make you feel as though you are in the thick of it.

The script is sharp, poignant, clever, and touching. Sometimes witty, always touching, but most important, it's an INTELLIGENT storyline.

Acting-wise, A+. The actors really put their hearts out there. What's fantastic about these actors is they are quality enough that they don't need to speak constantly. They don't have to fill every silence with spoken words; they aren't afraid to take a moment and breathe or let you feel how they are feeling from their expressions and body language. Carrie, as always, is a heart-breaker; and don't let the glasses fool you -- Harry Potter isn't in this movie. Dan Radcliffe is brilliant. David Haig is lovely as the man himself Rudyard Kipling. Kim Cattrall is completely believable as Caroline (no hint of the Sex in the City character).

I watched this flick with my three other roommates. When the credits started to roll, it was silent in our sitting-room for about five minutes, unless you count the sound of sniffling as we wiped our eyes. They do a fantastic job of making you feel as though Radcliffe's Jack is your son or brother; that these are your family members that you are mourning with. You really do feel like you've just been watching the story of your own best friend or brother as they have lost Their Boy Jack.

That is the film's greatest strength -- the fact that you feel like you are there, you feel like you are Elsie, Rudyard and Caroline Kipling and have just lost your own Jack -- and that, I believe, is precisely the point that David Haig was going for. It's not that the Kiplings have lost Their Boy Jack, it's that I have lost My Boy Jack.
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10/10
Splendid, thought provoking, and heartfelt. All a movie needs to be.
Dave9 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
My Boy Jack, the title taken from Kipling's poem of the same name, tells the story of Rudyard Kipling and his role as vehement propagandist for England's entrance into WWI, and Rudyard Kipling as the father who wants his son to live up to his ideals of the patriotic Englishman.

The show belongs to Haig, who not only wrote the play, but bears an uncanny resemblance to Rudyard. Haig becomes Kipling, from the pulpit pounding jingoist, to the polite and mannerly English gentleman. He captures Kipling, at least in a way that we all imagine a person gung-ho about encouraging his own country to enter into a war would be like. Young Daniel Radcliff, looking pale and gaunt, does a very good job of eliciting sympathy for a boy who just can't win. He wants to get out of the house and be his own person, while also living up to his dad's expectations (historically, the two were very close). Yet his vision problems present a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Not to be deterred, Kipling uses his influence to slip his son into the army, and to his horror learns that only two weeks after Jack departs for France, he is killed. And worse, he dies in the rain, having lost his glasses and unable to see. The very problem that everyone warned Kipling about.

Kim Catrell does well as the long-suffering Mrs. Kipling, with Carey Mulligan as Elsie and Julian Wadham rounding out the main cast with very good performances as Kipling's daughter and King George V respectfully.

Now, dramas based on historical people can often fall into the Oliver Stone technique of murdering history to drive home a point. Haig avoids this. Sure, if you think Kipling was just one more evil, racist imperialist huffing and puffing for war, then you may think this portrayal to be too sympathetic. If you are a fan of Kipling, and have learned to overlook any shortcomings on the pretense that we all are less than perfect, you may find it to be a bit judgmental against Kipling.

But for my money, it was a good balance. For those who are puzzled at the idea that this 'war propagandist' could at the same time be a loving father - well, that's the point. Too often we slip into the tendency of looking at those who lived in past times as one dimensional cardboard cut outs. We zero in on their flaws, or worse, where they disagree with our modern stances. People cease to be people. They become convenient ways to win an argument.

But here, Haig reminds us that even Kipling, who for some is one of the incarnations of all the worst of a country filled with the racist imperialist propagandist (a view I don't hold), was a person - like us. He is not the bloodthirsty tyrant, browbeating his son into a hopeless doom. He loved his son. His son loved him. He did what he thought was right in the way he thought best. And when he hears of his son's loss, we feel his tortured pain. We weep with him. We sympathize as he and his wife try, in their own ways, to come to grips with this loss of losses. We realize that he is no longer that cardboard cut out - but a real human being. And that makes this a keeper.

One more thing. Young Jack's death scene. War movies have a tough time bringing true sadness out of a viewer. Shock, pride, that feeling of unbelief at the suffering of humanity, yes - but seldom true sadness. That's because we know it's a war movie and people will die. But for my money, Radcliff, Haig and the rest of the actors, and the editors, did about as good a job showing poor Jack's final moments as any war movie death scene I have witnessed. My wife was bawling her eyes out, and I must admit, I got teary eyed (a very, very rare occurrence). Maybe it was a bit too deliberately emotional, but if so, only because all involved did a magnificent job, all the way to King George's own remorse set in final juxtaposition to Kipling's, and Kipling's final poetic tribute to Jack. As the king tries to explain how finding his dead son still warm brings comfort, to a man who would never again see the body of his own boy Jack, the tense remorsefulness almost brings the scene to a halt. All Kipling can do is wax poetic. And never has that poem sounded so painful, yet so proud.

If you want a movie all about how ignorant hyper-patriots butcher the innocent and push even their loved ones to their deaths while wrapping themselves in the flag, then this movie will disappoint. But My Boy Jack is a good reminder to a world that spends much of its time tearing down anyone with whom we disagree, and often extending this courtesy to people who lived many ages ago, that those being torn down are and were people. Think what you will, they laugh and cry, rejoice and agonize just like us. And in trying to make that point, My Boy Jack is about as good as any modern attempts have been. Definitely recommended.
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Extremely moving....and fantastic
Sian Gregory12 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Initially i wasn't too pleased with the film at first, i found some aspects were missing, however when the film gets going it really does get going so don't give up hope! I won't go into too much detail of the story. There's sort of two parallel stories going on. John'Jack' Kipling who struggles to get into the Navy because of poor eyesight and then the story of his father, who wrote the jungle book and became heavily involved in the propaganda of Britian during WWI- from what I've gathered from the story! As i said before i initially didn't like the story, and like most people my age was most likely watching it to see Daniel Radcliffe out of context. But i have to say this was an extremely moving story once you get to know the characters - who at times are a bit rigid but the well written story i felt covered this up.

I really am not one to cry and films i think thats just stupid but i was sooo tearing up, not just because of the film but the reality that this actually happened to the men. I would advise getting this its a great bit of film to commend various heroes in the war.

It's a deeply moving story and i think Daniel Radcliffe did a great job- considering it was a completely different role hes done before. Also the girl you was in Doctor Who who played his sister...cant think of her name :/ - she was extremely good as well. The women from sex in the city...not too sure about her.

But anyways! really do watch this film, if your from out of the UK i heard you can watch it online at-

http://www.itv.com/Drama/perioddrama/MyBoyJack/default.html I THINK!

also its coming out of DVD soon :)
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9/10
My Boy Jack should have been released in theaters
inquiringminds4 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted very badly to see this movie after hearing about it being released on TV in the UK last year. I am a big fan of Kipling's works as well as a fan of Daniel Radcliffe & was very impressed with the acting of David Haig, Kim Cattrall, & Dan Radcliffe. However, this was one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever watched. I have not seen hardly any movies depicting WWI, I have mostly seen war movies about Viet Nam, Iraq, & a few of WWII. Watching how the battle of Loos in France was depicted in the movie just tore me apart. I also watched the interviews with the main actors in the DVD extras & understand more what David Haig was trying to show. How horrible & senseless war is & no amount of propaganda can change that. I highly recommend this movie to any that can take seeing the tragedy of war, it is an excellent film.
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See this if you can
HallmarkMovieBuff21 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There are no ladies knitting back home in the capitals of Europe, but "My Boy Jack" does a topnotch job of portraying the horrors of World War I by focusing on one particular drawing room in England as Rudyard Kipling, his wife and daughter await word of the fate of son Jack, "missing, presumed wounded," in his first battle one day past his eighteenth birthday.

Familiar with David Haig only as the bumbling Detective Inspector Grim in the British comedy series, "The Thin Blue Line," I had no idea he could act so dramatically, let alone write so moving a piece as this. Of all the "Masterpieces" on public TV, this is one of the most deserving to be seen.

Young Daniel Radcliffe, in the middle of his run as the lead in the Harry Potter movie series, turns in a surprisingly effective performance in the title role here, a role quite different from that of the schoolboy wizard. And young Carey Mulligan, who's become nearly ubiquitous as somebody or other's daughter in U.K. dramas shown on American TV, is equally affecting as the Kipling daughter, Elsie.

U.K.-born, Canadian-bred, and U.S.-trained (at least in part), Kim Cattrall plays Kipling's American wife, with the accent to match. This piece was shown as a "Masterpiece Classic" on America's PBS, followed by behind-the-scene interviews with the three principals, Haig, Radcliffe, and Cattrall. Cattrall's interview was perhaps the most articulate of the lot, which may have been a surprise to viewers familiar only with "Samantha", Cattrall's sexpot in The City (NYC) from the popular HBO series.

All in all, VERY highly recommended.
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8/10
A study of the senseless of war
jjnxn-18 May 2013
Sad, extremely well acted tale of the senselessness of war and one family's experience. The father in this story is famous but it doesn't make their struggles any less universal. Daniel Radcliffe is terrific once again showing that he will be able to have a lifelong career far removed from Harry Potter. This is really a four person story and he is matched in excellence by the other three players, David Haig, Kim Cattrall and Carey Mulligan. Kim completely moves away from her Sex and the City persona with a performance of quiet control. She's always been a versatile actress but her identification with Samantha is such that her former more varied work is often forgotten. A very moving story presented with great skill.
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8/10
Very Good Anti-War Film!
Gunn21 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Although it starts out with author Rudyard Kipling as a gung-ho imperialist, there is redemption in its final scenes as he realizes the consequences of his pride. As said, it is an excellent film in all respects: acting, especially by David Haig as Rudyard Kipling, who also wrote the screenplay equally impressively. The music score by Adrian Johnston is both rich and somber and ultimately moving. The cinematography is stunningly beautiful and the art direction is brilliant and gritty. Daniel Radcliffe (John 'Jack' Kipling) is more than Harry Potter and shows his acting chops here, as do Kim Cattrall (Caroline Kipling), Carey Mulligan (Elsie 'Bird' Kipling) and Martin McCann (Bowe of the Irish Guard), who relates the details of what happened to Jack. This is an entertaining message movie.
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8/10
Harrowing
pawebster17 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
David Haig has done a marvellous job researching and producing this true story. I love the way he brings out the humanity and kindness of Rudyard Kipling (Note the way he deals with members of the lower classes). This makes the tragedy of what he does to his son, with the best of intentions, all the more poignant. Kipling goes all out to be a good father to his son, but as a famous and forceful author he inevitably smothers the boy too much. It is not - if this version is correct - true that he really pushes Jack into the war. The latter is extremely keen to join up - see, for example, the scene where he says he will "join the ranks", i.e. as a humble private soldier, if he is turned down as an officer candidate.

Haig and the two womenfolk are excellent. Daniel Radcliffe is all right as the son, without really shining.

The film becomes hard to watch in the latter stages because it is so harrowing. It is certainly not in any sense of the word entertainment after Jack dies.
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10/10
Putting a face on many millions of dead young men.
MartinHafer17 March 2013
"My Boy Jack" is set during WWI--a war in which many millions of young men were killed for absolutely nothing (between 5-6 million of these were Brits). However, instead of being the story about a battle or large groups of men, it's about one individual--Jack Kipling, the only son of Rudyard Kipling. What makes it so compelling is that Jack shouldn't have even been in action--he was practically blind and had been repeatedly rejected for service. But, since his father was a public figure and had pushed so much for the war as well as the whole 'duty to King and country' rot, it wasn't surprising that the boy felt compelled to push and push to get into the thick of the action. What happens next isn't at all surprising--and gives his family a chance to reassess their values and commitment to the cause as well as their own part in the tragedy.

This is a very effective film. Much of it is because of the fine acting by Daniel Ratcliffe (as Jack), Carey Mulligan, Kim Cattrall (as his American mother) and David Haig as Rudyard Kipling. What makes it a little more interesting is that the true story was based on a play written by Haig himself. Overall, it's a wonderful but incredibly sad film that puts an individual face on tragedy. Well worth seeing and filled with emotion--so much so that you really should have some Kleenex handy. One of the better made for TV movies I have seen.
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9/10
very thoughtful, a bit too dramatic but keeps viewer's interest very well.
beregic11 June 2008
yet again , i am very pleased with a British production. while the plot and the dialogs are quiet good (quiet great blend of realism,idealism and at times original take on conservatism in its both "old" and "new" forms forms - interesting parallel to be noticed on this "aspect"), the movie's straight is found in exceptional acting(it does make a difference when one has to start his or her acting career in theatrics and "on stage", and not being "picked up" for having a "pretty face", or as trivial things as such). while the plot is very "dear" to me in its subject matter, i got distracted by David Haig awesome performance as the father and Kim Cattrall( i would have never took her as a serious actress on the washed-up commercial "sex and the city")as a very NATURAL mother.in my opinion the movie's punch line is actually delivered by Carey Mulligan as jack's sister...

i do not feel like writing much at the moment; in short, this feature gives the vibe, and plays as a periodical drama (the cars are a bit too "advanced" for 1910's years), plays accordingly, yet it cultivates the viewer's attention and his/her own thoughts and ideological views on God,king,country and Family.it is a movie for mature viewing , yet any ages would find something "sweet" about it; guaranteed.

yes is true; while "made for TV", this production beats down most "blockbusters" of our time. nothing commercial to be found here, which is GREAT; only exceptional acting allowed!(Daniel Radcliffe is the only one that does not seem in sync at times, but that comes out OK since he is suppose to be "naive".also he is actually a secondary character, at face value, as far as the plot goes.)

i only give 9 stars because the way that King George, played by Julian Wadham, is portrayed and which goes against the features "principles". also for certain political implications i do not fully agree with
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7/10
A moving testament to a lost generation
malcolmgsw12 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very sad film shown on Remembrance Sunday.It is the story of Jack Kipling who is commissioned into the army despite his inadequate eye sight due to the pressure excerpted by his famous father Rudyard Kipling.Jack Kipling is killed in the first battle in which he is a participant invoking feelings of guilt and rage amongst the Kipling family,What is not made too clear is whether Jack Kipling actually wanted to go to fight or whether he was pressurised into it by his father.Jack Kipling was only too aware of his limitations due to his shortsightedness and the film does seem to imply that it was his fathers wish for him to serve in the armed forces rather than his own desire.The film skillfully evokes the atmosphere in England when World War 1 is declared and the horror of the trenches.
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7/10
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide
James Hitchcock19 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Although Rudyard Kipling was a poet of genius, he is also one of the most controversial figures in English literature, largely because of his close association with British imperialism. Yet to my mind the greatest blot on his reputation is not his support for the British Empire- an institution which had more merits than many of its detractors are willing to allow- but his passionate advocacy of British entry into the First World War, something motivated less by "King and Country" patriotism than by an obsessive hatred of Germany and the German people.

"My Boy Jack" examines the relationship between Kipling and his son John, who died in the war; John Kipling is always referred to as "Jack" in the film, although there has been some debate as to whether he was ever called Jack in real life. The title, however, derives from Kipling's bleak and haunting poem, written to express his grief at his son's death:-

" 'Have you news of my boy Jack?' Not this tide. 'When d'you think that he'll come back?' Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

When war breaks out in 1914, Jack is sixteen years old, and like many young men of his generation is eager to serve his country in the armed forces. Unfortunately, he suffers from poor eyesight and is turned down on that ground by both the Royal Navy and the Army. Kipling, however, has powerful friends, including King George V and the famous General Lord Roberts, and by pulling strings is able to obtain Jack a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Irish Guards.

Despite his youth and his disability, Jack proves an exemplary officer; he is a disciplinarian, but fair and popular with his troops. He is also courageous, as he is to prove when in September 1915, the day after his eighteenth birthday, he is ordered to lead his platoon into action in the Battle of Loos. During the attack, however, he disappears and, beyond a telegram to say that he is missing in action, the family hear nothing about him for the next two years. The rest of the film deals with the efforts of Kipling and his American wife Carrie to find out what has happened to their son and their grief as they gradually come to accept that he will not be returning from the war.

Rudyard Kipling is played by David Haig, who also wrote the play on which the film is based. Haig certainly bears a close resemblance to the real Kipling, and although his tone of voice and testy manner occasionally reminded me a bit too much of John Cleese's Basil Fawlty, it was overall a moving performance, especially in the later scenes when the ardent jingoist gives way to the anguished father, haunted not only by grief but also by guilt at the part he played in obtaining his son a commission.

Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Jack, and Kim Cattrall, who plays Carrie, are both actors who might suffer from typecasting, Radcliffe struggling to escape the shadow of Harry Potter and Cattrall that of Samantha in "Sex and the City". Even away from Hogwarts Radcliffe seems doomed to play mild-mannered, bespectacled teenagers. Cattrall here shows that she can play in serious dramas and that her range as an actress is wider than I had previously suspected; even so, I doubt if in real life Carrie Kipling had quite so much of the "sexy older woman" about her.

I have never seen Haig's original play, but I understand that it continued to follow Kipling's life into the 1930s. The film does not, but ends when Kipling and Carrie track down one of Jack's platoon who tells them how their son died. I think that in this the film missed an opportunity to examine the wider question of Kipling's guilt, not his guilt as a father who sent his son off to war, but his guilt as an opinion-former who helped to whip up war-fever in 1914, when he was an immensely popular and influential figure. We never learn whether Kipling ever regretted his role in creating a climate of hatred against Germany.

Kipling learns that Jack died bravely leading an assault on a German machine-gun position; by the standards of 1915, or even 1918, he was a hero who had selflessly given his life in a noble cause. By the time Kipling himself died in 1936, however, the world was starting to look very different. During the First World War no great ideological gulf had separated the two sides, and the leaders on both sides had justified their decision to go to war through a campaign of increasingly hysterical hate-propaganda which proclaimed that only the total victory of Our Side (Good) over Their Side (Evil) could ensure peace, freedom and the survival of European civilisation. After victory in 1918 Britain and her allies pretended that these noble ideals had finally been achieved, but by the 1930s it had become clear that all the war had achieved was to test that civilisation close to destruction, to facilitate the rise of totalitarian ideologies and to pave the way for a second conflict which threatened to be even more destructive than the first. (To Kipling's credit, he was, at the end of his life, one of the first in Britain to see the dangers of Nazism). The patriotic rhetoric of 1914, and the ideals for which John Kipling had died, were starting to look very hollow. 7/10
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6/10
Growing up before his time
Martin Bradley9 March 2008
If the point of Brian Kirk's television film, adapted by David Haig from his stage play and starring Haig as the writer Rudyard Kipling, was to show just how much of a horse's ass Kipling actually was and just how awful it is to send young men, some merely boys, out to fight a war, any war, then it succeeded in spades. But I'm not quite sure that was the point and its screening on Remembrance Sunday was no coincidence. While we were certainly there to weep at the loss of Jack, Kipling's son, drummed into the army by his father's jingoism, as well as the hundreds of thousands of others who died in The Great War, I think we were also meant to applaud their bravery, if not their foolishness, then and now. Parallels to present conflicts are unmistakable.

Of its kind, of course, it's well enough made. England was a green and pleasant land, certainly on Kipling's estate. Unfortunately it was also a bit like Neverland with Kipling coming over as a cross between J M Barrie and Gandolf. And the trenches weren't much better. The rain and the mud had a sanitized look about them. We never really got away from the studio and I always think that sort of thing looks better in black and white.

What finally distinguishes it are the two central performances. Haig makes Kipling a splendidly priggish boor proving he is a much better actor than he is a writer. As his sacrificial son, Jack, that sprogget Daniel Radcliffe, (he isn't very tall, is he?), finally shook off the mantle of Harry Potter with a marvelously nuanced study of a boy forced into manhood before his time. (Radcliffe turned eighteen during filming just as his character turned eighteen prior to his death). It was a touching, exploratory piece of acting that seemed to me to be as much about Radcliffe as it was about Jack. Both players add a dimension to the drama that it lacked elsewhere and if it finally moved me, and it did, it was due to their performances. In every other respect it's just a typical made-for-television costume drama.
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