About – In the trenches of Aisne 1918 (WWI), is the story of a group of British soldiers, led by the mentally crumbling young officer Stanhope, as they await their fate.
Journey’s End is adapted from the same titled play by R.C. Sherriff. The play has been adapted before, but nothing as heart-wrenching and honest as its latest release. Director Saul Dibb who brought us Suite Française (2014), has done a terrific adaptation of this harrowing and real, World War One drama.
It has an outstanding British cast, Sam Claflin, Paul Bettany, Asa Butterfield, Toby Jones, Stephen Graham and Tom Sturridge. All six playing huge and very important roles.
Sam portraying Captain Stanhope of the group, is an alcoholic caused by the traumatic circumstances, he’s enduring. His second in command Osborne (Paul Bettany) is trying to find the positives and levelness within all of this madness. Then there are his ‘assistants’ Trotter (Stephen Graham) and Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) who are very positive minded about the outcome of this war. Last but of course not least is Mason (Toby Jones) a fun, sarcastic chef that feeds the group.
The feeling that these characters are real is a brilliant element within the film. These characters have a full meaning of togetherness. The film highlights the smaller elements in life that we can all relate too and appreciate. As in one scene, Mason jokes about the soup, “what soup is this Mason?” Trotter askes “its yellow sir”. This small sarcastic British humour brings the humbleness and familiarity to the audience.
Within the trenches there isn’t a lot of time for everything the breath. However, within Journey’s End there are small features within it, that let it breath and let the characters blossom into a real person. We know the outcome for these men, as we predict this from the beginning. But, in a way of real Britishness, sarcasm and togetherness this makes us feel part of their day to day journey.
The narrative follows these six men around the trenches and bunkers. Showing the extreme day to day actions they must take to survive. Mixed with boredom but also hopeless terror. By feeling mixed emotions about the whole war, this is something that is very unique about Journey’s End. This transition was felt by the amazing acting that these six British men portrayed, but also the intensity of the score.
Which leads onto the score. Score’s play a great part in the experience of a film. Huge blockbusters usually get it on the nose. However, occasionally small independent films don’t seem to achieve this. Yet, Journey’s End has an amazing intense score that makes us sink into our chairs, due to the piercing high pitched sounds. With help, from the close framing, close-up shots of characters, this increases each scene which intensifies the oppressive surroundings.
Ultimately, if you are looking for an action-packed war film then you’re going to be disappointed. This dramatic adaptation is a very British war film that captivates the realness of each character, while we forget that these are actors. Its powerful, cinematic and authentic.