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'Testament Of Youth' is a BBC film.
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
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.
Tags for Testament of Youth Full Movie
, Colin Morgan
, Dominic West
, Taron Egerton
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