Journey’s End: The Film


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?


War Horse


As the National Theatre’s production of War Horse has left its London home for the final time, I thought that now would be a pertinent moment to write something about it.

I was lucky enough to see the play live when I turned eighteen and it’s something that I’ll never forget. There are so many moments that have lingered in my mind and that I still find myself thinking about – especially the point in the play when the foal Joey becomes the adult Joey. It’s a mastery of puppetry, technology and drama – full to the brim with feeling; soaring joy, amazement, wonder. It’s certainly the first time I have ever audibly gasped aloud and clutched at the armrests of my seat in reaction to a piece of drama.

These are the things which have stayed with me in the three years since I saw the play. First, the artistry that comes from the puppets. They’re so lifelike, it’s easy to forget about the men behind them. There are small nuances that make it all the more real – a flicker of an ear, a slight movement of the head, a gentle whickering sound. Second, the laughter that comes and lightens some of the moments, even when a little unexpected. The play is not misery after misery, far from it; but the balance is there, between laughter and the quieter moments that rest a little heavier on the audience – something which is welcome, I think.

When I saw the play, I found myself overwhelmed by it, my heart in my mouth and tears falling freely as the narrative unfolded on the stage, but it was such a release of emotion that it was cathartic – something I needed to do.

A relative saw the film a few weeks ago and said, “It’s so much more important, isn’t it? Once you’ve been to France..” and perhaps it does add something else to the piece, another sort of knowledge, a different perspective and a different focus. The book too was something completely new as far as WWI narratives go – told through the eyes of an animal. A different voice, a new experience – but it remains still fresh now, despite the wealth of stories that have been brought to the forefront.

In my eyes however, the play stands tall of its own accord – a wonderfully moving piece of drama that still leaves you with hope at the fall of the curtain.