It’s the relentless waiting for a seemingly unavoidable fate that manifests true terror in war.
Before 1941 no one thought the world could possibly top the horrors of “the war to end all wars”. 2017 film ‘Journey’s End’ recounts the paralyzing terror of the soldiers awaiting doom in the trenches of World War I France. A powerful story with highlighted with honest performances.
Based upon a classic play by R.C. Sherriff, there’s little derring-do or war thrills. This is a stripped back, wrenching exploration into the mind and soul of soldiers whose lives were more often valued for political gain than any military purpose.
When Captain Stanhope’s (a stellar Sam Claflin) childhood friend Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) arrives for duty during the company’s six day turn in the trenches his already crumbling sanity is pushed beyond limits. How can anyone hope to reconcile this once spirited youth with the drunkard wreck the captain has now become?
Only Stanhope’s faithful second, Lt. Osborne (Paul Bettany, sublime), has been able to keep the captain’s worst natures at bay. And with an impending German assault looming sanity and hope are in desperately short supply.
The claustrophobic trenches provide an intimate stage for these character defining moments. Suitably grim settings for young men’s struggles to balance their duty against the burden of an unforeseeable, seemingly hopeless future.
With strong acting, effective battlefield designs, and a palpable sense of desperation the war drama ‘Journey’s End’ shines through its modest production. You won’t leave feeling better about the world, but, that wasn’t the point of the exercise. I’m truly grateful for the anguish created and the sickening mark left upon my psyche.
–Perhaps, someday, we might learn the lessons of the not-so-distant past and stop using the
lives deaths of our youth to fuel the greed and megalomania of politicians. I doubt it…