That aside, this is an amazing movie. It is like All Quiet on the Western in the fact that it tackles the disillusionment with romantic war notions. It is about the Kipling family just before and in the beginning of WWI. Rudyard Kipling (David Haig) was a very outspoken in support of the upcoming war. He doesn't bully his son, Jack (Daniel Radcliffe), but he certainly drives his son to join. The problem is that Jack is very nearsighted. After several attempts, Kipling manages to pull some strings and get Jack accepted. He goes and becomes a leader, then is sent to war. I will go ahead and tell the rest because, its historical fact, I won't ruin anything. In his first battle charge, he is listed as missing. The family begins a search for, I believe, two years to find him. Unsurprisingly, they learn that he died.
As a side note: they never found their son's body. While a part of me thinks that it is somehow not a big deal, a much larger part of me can not imagine having to deal with that. No marker, no grave, no idea where his final resting place is, which usually means that he was thrown into a goup grave or some sort after the battle was over. It is just so tragic. I can never imagine going through something like that and on top of which never having the satisfaction of where his mortal body is.
But the story is more than that. It is about a family in war time. The best part, I believe is after they learn of his death. The scene between Rudyard and his wife Carrie (Kim Catrall) is so heartbreaking and brilliant. Which leads me to the acting, which is wonderful. I like seeing Daniel Radcliffe's work outside of HP - and I think he is good. It is interesting seeing him portraying this young man who grows up while we are watching. Once he gets promoted, it is amazing the change that comes over him. So mature at such a young age. That is not easy to portray as an actor. Radcliffe does it wonderfully. The other person I very much liked was Kim Catrall. The only way I knew of her was through Sex & the City - which is a far cry from this. And she was delightful without being too sentimental and overdramatic.
I like this story because it takes on disillusionment with what war is - and I think that is very important. Sometimes it amazes me how we romanticize war. And nothing has changed, we're still doing it. We did in in WWI, it was very much apart of our culture in WWI, we shunned those who were against it in the following wars - and even look at what our country was like after 9/11. What makes this worse was that no one was prepared for a war like WWI. It was considered the first modern war - and we had to sacrafice a lot before we knew how to fight a war like that. I mean think about all the horrors of that first world war. Gas bombs, tanks, machine guns - they all came from The Great War. And it was supposed to be the War to End All Wars. Sadly, it wasn't.
As a side note: watching the special features interviews, I was happy to hear the writer/actor of the play/film stop and take a minute to think about the effect of the loss of a human life. For every soldier there is at least one entire family whose life is changed forever - not to mention their friends as well. And then Kim Catrall mentioned that a single death has a ripple effect. Every human action does, but when you think in the finite terms of human life, it takes on special significance. Since each person's life circumstances are so different from anothers, we will never be able to fully realize the significance that the loss of so many lives means. This is what history is to me. A series of ripples reach out and effecting the course of human lives. Except that, in reality, it would be like adding another drop of water for each ripple produced that would, in term, start a whole other set of ripples, which would be the origin of an entire other set. Interconnected ripples. Now that is history.
Not an easy film to get through without a box of Kleenex - but a really good one with a touching story.
3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars