23 October 2014 | CharlieGreenCG
Unseen perspective, and solid-account of the despair that war causes.
Considered one of the greatest war memoirs ever written, the Testament of Youth is a true-life account of Vera Brittian's life from 1914 - 1918, and a chronicle of how the First World War affected not only her, but the nation's lives.
One of the things that determines Testament of Youth different to other bloody, explosive and bullet-ridden war tales is that it is focused on the domestic view of the ones who not only joined the war on the front-line, but also those at home and the consequent effects on loved ones, offering an unseen perspective, and solid-account of the despair that war causes.
Beginning in pre-war 1914, we are introduced to Vera Brittain, a determined and wilful individual with aspirations of not becoming just a traditional young-married women, but one who attends Oxford University and chooses her own life-choices.
Along with her brother Edward (Taron Egerton) and his two friends Victor (Colin Morgan) and Geoffrey (Jonathan Bailey), they all enjoy their youth in the rural village with their parents (Dominic West and Emily Fox). On-the-road to Oxford, she is introduced to her brothers close friend Roland (Kit Harington), and a relationship soon breaks out - but untimely, as does the war.
Quite proud to do so out of loyalty to Queen and country, her brother Edward, and friends Victor and Geoffrey with Roland all sign up to the forces to assist. (Against parental wishes to do so). Now at Oxford, yet unable to focus as this devastation is happening all around her, she joins the forces too, as a nurse - and the film develops from there.
Given a world-premiere at the 58th BFI London Film Festival, the film is squeezed out in time for the Remembrance holidays and by-all accounts award season. Based on our criticism alone, it is going to be praised and remembered at both.
Crafted by former TV-movie director, James Kent, along with the (brilliant) cast, Testament of Youth is a thoroughly engaging history drama in Downton Abbey-esqe war times and a unique approach to the war like never before.