Confronting the Great War in ‘Testament of Youth’



Testament of Youth, the film based on British World War I nurse Vera Brittain’s best-selling memoir, has just been released on Blu-rayDVD and Digital HD. We’ve got a clip from the film, a scene in which Vera (played by Alicia Vikander from Ex Machina) tells her parents (Dominic West and Emily Watson) that she’s leaving Oxford and heading to work as a nurse at the war’s front lines.

The film focuses on Brittain’s relationships with her brother (Tara Egerton from Kingsman: The Secret Service) and boyfriend (Kit Harington from Game of Thrones). There’s an opening plot about her efforts to attend Oxford during an era when women weren’t expected to attend university and the action shifts to the Great War.

Everyone volunteers and, since this is a World War I movie released at the conflict’s centennial anniversary, it’s no surprise that major characters are killed in action.

The production values are closer to a BBC/PBS television drama than to a big theatrical war film but you get three of the next generation of big movie stars in what should prove breakout dramatic roles and Game of Thrones completists will be especially interested in the bonus commentary from Kit Harrington.

Brittain became a leading voice in the UK pacifist movement after the war and Testament of Youth is a reminder of just how shocked Europe was by the brutality of what everyone expected would be yet another brief and gentlemanly conflict.