Released: January 2015
Watched Netflix BluRay: February 2016
Read Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain: January/February 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Synopsis: In 1914, Vera Brittain overcomes the restraints on women of the time to become a student at Somerville College, Oxford. When World War I breaks out, her brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton, and their friends Victor and Geoffrey, are sent to serve at the front lines. Brittain follows their sacrifice, leaving college to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment as a nurse tending the wounded and dying (both British and German) in London, Malta and France.
I watched this with my husband on Sunday afternoon, Valentine’s Day. A less bleak day than Saturday the 13th (overcast and never above 25 degrees). Today is bright and sunny and in the 50s. Almost spring like. I’m beginning to think I should have watched Testament of Youth yesterday instead of the Water Diviner. Don’t get me wrong. Testament is an excellent film and a valiant attempt to adapt Vera Brittain’s amazing memoir. But you can’t cram an incredible, unforgettable twenty-five years (1900-1925) into a mere two hours. The bits the film makers excerpted were well-chosen, but still left me wanting the other missing bits. I think I would have preferred a longer form film, like a Masterpiece series, to give Brittain’s legacy everything it deserved.
My recommendation? Read the book. You will relate better to Vera’s prose and her insights into her generation, the one that transitioned from the Golden Age of the Victorian Era to the aftermath of the First World War. You get glimpses of her in this film, but to really get to know her, read her memoir. There’s a reason it’s still in print almost a hundred years after she lived it.