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Testament of Youth (2014)

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A British woman recalls coming of age during World War I - a story of young love, the futility of war, and how to make sense of the darkest times.

Director:

James Kent

Writers:

Vera Brittain (autobiography), Juliette Towhidi (screenplay by)
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Popularity
4,310 ( 149)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alicia Vikander ... Vera Brittain
Taron Egerton ... Edward Brittain
Colin Morgan ... Victor Richardson
Dominic West ... Mr. Brittain
Emily Watson ... Mrs. Brittain
Kit Harington ... Roland Leighton
Joanna Scanlan ... Aunt Belle
Miranda Richardson ... Miss Lorimer
Rachel Redford ... Exam Candidate
Nicholas Farrell ... Headmaster
Daisy Waterstone ... Clare Leighton
Nicholas Le Prevost ... Mr. Leighton
Anna Chancellor ... Mrs. Leighton
Teresa Churcher ... Passenger
Xavier Atkins ... Boy on Bicycle
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Storyline

A long, long time ago, back in the spring of 1914, they were so happy together. There was Vera Brittain, an upper class girl with ideas of her own; and her bright brother Edward; and his group of friends among whom Roland Leighton, wonderful, handsome, sensitive Roland Vera had fallen for... Always having great times together talking, laughing, exchanging ideas, walking, eating, swimming together; all of them envisioning the glittering future they deserved: Vera, despite her father's opposition, would study at Oxford, marry Roland and be a famous writer; Roland, as for him, would be acclaimed as a great poet while Edward and his friends would each become a prominent figure in his respective field... But then came that fateful day on 4 August 1914 when Britain declared war on Germany. All those beautiful dreams were to be shattered one after the other. All except one: Vera wound up becoming a writer... A writer but a pacifist as well. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Divided by war. United by love.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

: Rated PG-13 for thematic material including bloody and disturbing war related images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Denmark

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

16 January 2015 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Testamento de juventud See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$53,000, 7 June 2015

Gross USA:

$1,822,030
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

French visa # 143.163. See more »

Goofs

The appallingly long newspaper casualty lists and near total destruction of Britain's professional army, the British Expeditionary Force, during the Battle of the Frontiers and the First Battle of the Marne are shown as suddenly appearing in the evening papers of the day Roland leaves for France in the winter of 1914 demonstrated by the heavy, warm, winter-weight coats and hats worn by Vera, civilians, and soldiers on the train and in the station. In actuality August and September were record-breaking hot months. These battles and the long casualty lists associated with them took place during August and September 1914. See more »

Quotes

Vera Brittain: Like no one else... you share that part of my mind that associates itself mostly with ideal things and places... The impression thinking about you gives me is very closely linked with that given me by a lonely hillside or a sunny afternoon... or books that have meant more to me than I can explain... This is grand, but still it isn't enough for this world... The earthly and obvious part of me longs to see and touch you and realise you as tangible.
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Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, World War I guns can be heard in the background. See more »

Connections

Featured in The EE British Academy Film Awards (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Joy To the World
Written by Isaac Watts (uncredited) and Lowell Mason (uncredited)
Arranged by Steve Porter
Imagem Production Music
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User Reviews

 
Anthem For Doomed Youth
22 November 2015 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

I remember being given this book as a set text for an English A-Level examination over 30 years ago and am aware that there was a prestigious BBC production of it also several years back but this is the first dramatisation I've seen of Vera Brittain's novel documenting her own experiences in that golden age of post-Edwardian pre WW1 England when for coming-of-age birthdays you got given a piano from your father. That's if you were a girl of course, her more musically gifted brother conversely gets what she would have wanted, a scholarship at Oxford although on the other hand he is also at the the prime age to be called up for what he and most everyone else (but not their knowing father) believes will be a short, heroic and clean war which of course it turned out not to be (apart from the heroic part).

Young Vera is headstrong, not only about wanting to make her own way in a man's world (female emancipation was still years away), but later about making her own contribution to the war effort by enrolling as a nurse while her lover, brother and other male friends are fighting in the trenches. Told wholly from her point of view, it's an entertaining if not enthralling watch, beautifully shot and well acted if somehow just lacking some extra pathos to really capture the hellish undertow of the War to end all Wars.

Alicia Vikander is appealing as the vaguely tomboyish, intellectual Vera. In those days, it would appear, the golden youth had to be chaperoned everywhere by a usually imposing maiden aunt figure and make their feelings about each other known by writing and sending poems as the film strives to contrast the idyllic pre-war days of carefree swimming and carousing with the bleakness and destruction of war itself. For me, I didn't feel the contrast quite sharply enough and my abiding memories of the film are of the big family house and the dreaming spires of Oxford rather than the hell of the makeshift military hospitals and muddy and bloody trenches on the front line.

The best shot for me was when I perhaps detected a tribute to all-time great movie "Gone With The Wind" as Vera goes Scarlett-like amongst the wounded and dying, searching for her wounded brother where the camera ascends into a sweeping dolly shot showing the full extent of the number of the casualties, just like Vincent Fleming's rightly famous take all those years ago.

The supporting actors are picked from the familiar directory of experienced British character actors, notably Miranda Richardson and Emily Watson, while the young actors in the leads, all of them unfamiliar to me, perform with aplomb.

There is a great true-life story to be told here and this film does so respectfully and responsibly, if just a little too carefully at times.


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