Playwright R.C. Sherriff had seen first-hand the effect of years of war on his friends and knew the fear and terror of waiting for an impending attack, waiting for his journey's end. The characters in the play are a reflection of the men Sherriff had served with in the 9th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. See more »
To quote the AMC's BAND OF BROTHERS: "We lost a lot of men that night". This does apply since in WW1 we lost 6,000,000 British men to be precise. WW1 was such a pointless waste of life and JOURNEY'S END, directed by Saul Dibb portrays all the characteristics of the great tragedy brilliantly! JOURNEY'S END is a real Tore Du Force in the war genre. It's dark, brooding, tragic, and a very miserable affair but it certainly gets the point across about the death, depression and most of all the pointless waste of life. With the cast, music, set pieces and dialogue, Dibb has created a very strong film that authentically portrays the absolute horror of war. Let's look at all the good things of JOURNEY'S END...
Firstly, the directing. Dibb really gives this movie his all, his directing is brilliant and he really gets the best from his cast. He's built a brilliant and authentic set piece that immediately made me think of PATHS OF GLORY and that looked exactly like a WW1 trench. But most of all he uses really evocative camerawork. What really struck me was Dibb's close-up shots of soldiers faces, he captures the powerful raw emotion on all of their faces. Quentin Tarantino attempted this in THE HATEFUL EIGHT by using a 70mm camera for close-up's on people's faces but in my opinion didn't come close to Dibb's work. He captures all the emotion, anger and terror on the men's faces and he didn't even need a 70mm. Obviously this depends on the actors he has and I can assure you that Dibb's cast is absolutely brilliant. Every single member was on top-form.
There were three standout performances for me: Sam Claflin, Paul Bettany and Asa Butterfield.Sam Claflin gives a titanic performance as Captain Stanhope. He portrays such raw emotion, such anger and such misery. He plays an rage-o-holic, alcoholic who's only just keeping hold of his sanity and talks mostly in growls. He's a pretty unlikeable character but Claflin really plays him to the uttermost of his acting ability and shows us what a powerful and versatile actor he is. For me, he represents what war does to ordinary men.Paul Bettany is another really powerful performance in this movie as Osborne. He plays a tender man, you can see that being in the War is eating at him slowly but he puts on a brave face and carries on. He looks after his soldiers like brothers and is a character you really grow fond of and care about.I am not an Asa Butterfield fan but I was pleasantly surprised by his performance as Raleigh. He arrives at the front as a green teen, eager to get at the "Gerry's" but when he experiences combat for the first time, we see his character change completely, he's depressed, brooding and has obviously lost innocence that can never be retrieved and Butterfield plays all those emotions brilliantly. Butterfield for me represents the waste of youth and the boys cut down in their prime and since he's on the cusp of manhood himself at the current age of 20 his character was made more convincing and sad.
The music was another thing that added to this movie, courtesy of Natalie Holt, it was like a groaning violin and really added to the drama and tension.
Another good thing about the movie was the script, courtesy of Simon Reade. It's simple and get's everything across but most importantly it creates tension and drama. Sometimes the tension was almost unbearable and does keep you hooked but in an almost uncomfortable way.
Then of course there's the action. The film is rated a 12 but is devastating enough. Loud, giant explosions and men's terrible screams, it really gets across the horror of war. However, I personally thought that the mood and a couple of the images deserved a 15, I don't think it's a film for 12 year olds and I'm over 15 and I still found it hard viewing.
However, I can't say that I enjoyed JOURNEY'S END. There was a lot I admired about it but it left me rather depressed and with a bad taste in my mouth. It's a powerful reminder but a tragic and unpleasant one.
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