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Films // Coming up // WW1 // Testament of Youth and Cornish Tommies
WW1 // Testament of Youth and Cornish Tommies
Dir. James Kent | UK 2014 | 129 min | 12A
Vera Brittain’s beloved and powerful World War I memoir is exquisitely realised in this moving and very timely adaptation. Irrepressible, intelligent and free-minded, Vera (Alicia Vikander) overcomes the prejudices of her family and hometown to win a scholarship to Oxford. There, she plunges into an intoxicating romance with her brother’s dashing friend Roland (Kit Harington), but their idyll rapidly crumbles when Britain declares war on Germany.
Roland enlists, along with Vera’s brother (Taron Egerton) and another of his prep-school friends (Colin Morgan), and as the men head to the front lines she cannot resign herself to her studies, instead enrolling as a military nurse. Immediately confronted with the pitiless reality of the war’s victims, her life is irrevocably changed as she loses, one by one, the men she held so dear.
A deft balance of romance and restrained sentimentalism with tough minded human tragedy, this is at once a manifesto of the female experience of war, a sobering account of the loss of a generation, and a brilliant ode to one of our greatest pacifist thinkers. This film is a chance for Brittain to deliver her message afresh, and what a rallying cry it is.
Accompanied by a screening of short film Cornish Tommies.