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.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.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.
Alicia Vikander Through the Years
Alicia Vikander Through the Years
The film opens with a maffick, but with one young woman being rather subdued, even dazed. Then in a clever scene, there is a Col. Blimp- style swimming scene.
We are introduced to Vera Brittain, living in provincial comfort in Buxton Derbyshire, and struggling against social convention. She and her young male friends, all on the threshold of adulthood, are looking to the future. It is the summer of 1914 and the era is caught well and authentically.
Love is in the air and as our story develops we get some nice Michael Corleone-style 'Sicilian' courting. In a small part, Joanne Scanlan plays the chaperon Aunt Belle. She delivers to the part the same depth that she did when playing Mrs Catherine Dickens in last year's 'The Invisible Woman'. Played initially for laughs, the chaperon takes a much deeper and more human role as Summer moves into Autumn. There is a station scene, much more dramatic than that in the recent 'The Imitation Game', because the trains are going in a different direction.
Vera Brittain herself wrote of critics who doubted the authenticity of her account. Who are we, to measure the authenticity and depth of feeling of young lovers? This was their love, not ours! The reality of WWI, of course, can be easily measured and recounted.
The film gets progressively darker as the war intrudes into the story. The darkest scenes of all are set in France. These scenes are grim and gritty, muddy and bloody. There are many poignant scenes of love and war. Vera Brittain's male companions are played well by a strong cast. The central character of Roland Leighton is well played by Kit Harington, Here however, his romantic side is much more subdued, than that in his role in last year's 'Pompeii', where he featured in what was arguably the most romantic kiss scene of all time. Appropriately, Colin Morgan who has previously played the role of Merlin, here adds some magic, in what is perhaps the most poignant scene in this film. Perhaps the most sinister-looking figure in the film, is the innocent-faced-looking telegram-boy, played by Xavier Atkins. A small but scary part.
Pre-war Imperial Britain changed to the post-war era of Vera Brittain. The pre-war campaign for votes for women failed. The war forced women to do jobs previously done by men, to take up new roles and new responsibilities. Thus the post-war clamour for women's equality could no longer be ignored, and instead change started. The life and literature of Vera Brittain was an inspiration for the next generation, not the least being her daughter, the politician Shirley Williams. Vera Brittain's 'Testament' is now a recognized part of British culture and history. It is a long time since I read her book, but it seems to me that this film authentically captures the story in the book.
WWI was a seminal event. It changed the lives of a generation. it was a dominant theme in thinking in the inter-war period. To understand positions taken before and during WWII, we need to understand the context in which these positions were adopted.
In four short years British history was changed forever. So too for the world. This true story authentically captures the period and the resultant changes. 9/10.
- Jan 19, 2015