For my first post in 2017, I want to talk for a moment about the upcoming film adaptation of Journey’s End. I was entirely unaware of it until I came across an article in The Guardian just before Christmas, to be found here. Anyone who follows me on twitter will be aware that the article immediately made me rather angry with its assumption that women do not read books on the First World War, and apparently want nothing to do with it unless it’s all nicely digestible as a play (?!). Really, it’s not as though women have written books on the First World War or anything of the sort..
Aside from my anger at the needless comment regarding gender and apparent interest or lack thereof in the First World War, I was somewhat nervous (and remain nervous) about this adaptation. I adore Sherriff’s play and have seen it as a piece of live theatre – harrowing, intimate and deeply affecting, it has stayed with me for a long time.
For me, one of the aspects of the play that I consider to be important is Stanhope’s youth. As far as I can recall (as I don’t have the text with me at present) he is in his early twenties – Sam Claflin however is in his thirties. That takes away an aspect of his character that adds to the way in which the audience view how Stanhope gradually breaks down and the coping mechanism he elects to use. His youth adds another sort of melancholy; one of his older subordinates looks upon him as a son more than a commanding officer, and having Claflin play Stanhope removes this element of the relationship between Stanhope and those he commands.
Secondly, I am just generally hesitant about the film as a whole. The poster feels a little cloying, the tagline ‘innocence lost. courage found’ is..well. Probably not what I would have gone for – it feels a little overwrought and not necessarily relevant. The depiction of Stanhope’s gradual breakdown and his relationship with Raleigh are what I feel anchor the play so firmly – if either of these are handled badly, one wonders what the film will end up becoming.
Still, one cannot judge a film that has not yet been released on the strength of the cast and one poster! I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks of this upcoming adaptation – optimistic? wary? not-all-that-fussed?