About the film
Director: Saul Dibb
Actors: Paul Bettany, Sam Claflin, Stephen GrahamOver three days of fighting in March of 1918, British soldiers stuck in the WWI trenches of northern France and their commanding officers quartered below await a German attack.
R.C. Sherriff famously drew on his own experiences in the trenches to write Journey’s End, his much-revived, regularly-taught 1928 play set on the tense eve of 1918’s Spring Offensive.
March, 1918. C-Company arrives to take its turn in the front-line trenches in northern France led by the war-weary, broken Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin). A German offensive is imminent, and the officers (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Tom Sturridge) and their cook (Toby Jones) distract themselves in their dugout with talk of food and their past lives.
Stanhope, meanwhile, soaks his fear in whisky, unable to deal with his dread of the inevitable. Young new officer, Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), has just arrived, fresh out of training and abuzz with the excitement of his first real posting; not least because he is to serve under Stanhope, his former school house monitor and the object of his sister’s affections. Each man is trapped, the days ticking by, the tension rising and the attack drawing ever closer.
Director Saul Dibb (The Duchess, Bullet Boy) stays true to R.C. Sherriff’s interpretation. The dialogue, formal and courteous via a screenplay by writer/producer Simon Reade is significant in that the usual male bravado is replaced by a crushing vulnerability shared by tender comrades – these men have been in the war for years and hold few hopes in its final months of emerging alive.
It’s an emotional powerhouse you will not forget.