Director: William Boyd
WWII movies get most of the attention, but WWI movies, especially British-based, trench-based dramas, can really pack an emotional impact as well; what a bizarre, bewildering, bloody time. All Quiet of the Western Front and 1917 made an impact recently, but films like The Trench and Journey’s End shouldn’t be overlooked; this is one hell of a stomach-churning genre. This film, with the feel of a stage play, brings all the weight of the time period to bear, and will leave audiences grasping for answers to ridiculous questions, like “how could we do this?”
Dug into a trench at the front of the English lines days before the Battle of the Somme, a troop of British soldiers stand ready to do their duty, to fight for their King, and to die if necessary. But as the days before the offensive drag on, with little rest and no assurance of survival, the band begins to falter mentally, losing faith in the bravery of their cause. Mere boys, going over the top to immediate deaths, with lords driving them onward, with families waiting for them back home, struggle with love of country vs the desire to stay alive one more day.
What a brutal, disheartening, and stark portrayal of life & death in the trenches, with disposable soldiers fighting battles that can’t be won, while generals make marks on maps that won’t be current tomorrow. This is a look into the lives of these young men, who they were behind their uniforms, and what they were fighting for. The pointlessness of this war is shocking, and to be given the knowledge of your almost-certain death is something that we simply can’t understand. Bravo to a great ensemble cast, to a stage presentation, and to the simplicity of the story; this is a film that is so important to see and to learn from.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆