Remembrance Day movies – movie review

Journey’s End

The true horrors of war feature in the somber WWI film, Journey’s End.

The movies tells the story of a company led by the war-weary Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin), waiting to take its turn in the front-line trenches in northern France. A German offensive is imminent and the officers (played by Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham Tom Sturridge) and their cook (Toby Jones) distract themselves in their dugout with talk of food and their past lives. A young officer, Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) is abuzz with the excitement of his first posting. One of the reasons for that is that he is about to serve under Stanhope, his former school house monitor and the object of his sister’s affections. Only now Stanhope is a deeply troubled and changed man.

Based on R.C. Sherriff’s celebrated 1928 play, Journey’s End allows us to get inside the psyche of several of the key players. And it turns the screws – there’s no easy way out here.

I walked out of Journey’s End quite traumatised. What went down continued to play on my mind.

Journey’s End is in general release from 8 November 2018.

They Shall Not Grow Old

Massive plaudits to Peter Jackson for his technical prowess in bringing to life the sights, sounds and experiences of the Great War in They Shall Not Grow Old. No historians provide commentary; rather this is WWI unplugged through the eyes of British survivors.

These brave men speak about everything from how they enlisted, their preparation for conflict, their kits and rations to ablutions, the unsanitary conditions, the horrors of multitudes dying and being injured around them, their view of the enemy and their reception back home when peace was declared. We are all the richer for it.

The documentary uses never-before-seen film footage; starting with black and white vision, and moving to coloured footage, before reverting again. One of the techniques he uses widely is putting movement into still photographs.

For all of this technical wizardry and the insights afforded to us, I found the incessant narration at times repetitive.

Still, in so many ways it remains a remarkable piece of work and an important historical reference.

They Shall Not Grow Old will be shown in special screenings on 11 November 2018.

Alex First


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