Saturday, 15 December 2018

Movie testament to author’s popularity

FOR the first time Testament of Youth comes to the silver screen.

FOR the first time Testament of Youth comes to the silver screen.

Vera Brittain’s moving memoir has been adapted into a film version, 82 years after its author first published her tribute to those loved ones lost during the Great War.

The film’s release comes at a fitting time, as the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War has been marked with commemorations around the world.

Brittain’s chronicle was first released in 1933 and became an instant hit. It was reprinted in 1978, eight years after her death, and remains a notable work, studied in schools. After its first publication Brittain became a pacifist and staunch opponent to carpet bombing Germany during the Second World War.

The latest re-telling of her tale — her book was also made into a BBC mini-series in 1979 — is done with the blessing of her family, including her daughter Baroness Shirley Williams who was consulted during filming.

As a film, Brittain’s story begins with her romance with one of her brother Edward’s friends, Roland Leighton.

A courtship ensues and the pair are smitten. Already a trailblazer, Brittain prepares to take up her place to study English at Oxford University. But when her brother and three friends join the war effort she turns her back on academia and signs up to become an auxiliary nurse for the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

Her work takes her to France where she tends to the wounded while her brother and his friends go off to fight, to return on leave as men damaged by the horrors of trench warfare.

Director James Kent focuses on the personal relationships of those affected by the conflict rather than cinematic battle scenes. The result is an emotional tale of the toll war took on a generation.

• This week’s Discover Tuesday film will be Set Fire to the Stars (15).

The film charts three weeks in the life of poet Dylan Thomas as he embarks upon a disastrous tour of America during the Fifties. Shot in black and white, it stars Elijah Wood and Celyn Jones.

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