One of the beauties of cinema is how it can so beautifully encapsulate and highlight what has affected us most. In paying respects to war, Hollywood films have helped throughout the years to acknowledge the sacrifice so many before us have made for our freedoms. The twentieth century’s pervading legacy has been about war, with two of the largest wars in the history of our world happening in the first half of the century.
Testament of Youth is based on the popular memoir of English writer, feminist, and pacifist, Vera Brittain’s experiences during the First World War. The film is a powerful and moving impassioned story of love, war, and remembrance from the point of view of a woman trying to find her place in the world. From a wide-eyed young woman with youthful hopes and dreams, to the edge of despair and back again, the British film perfectly captures the ineffectiveness of war, young love, and how to find light in dark times.
The film follows young Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) on the cusp of adulthood and a modern new era. Despite the wishes of her conservative parents (Dominic West, Emily Watson) to get married, young and self-taught Vera is determined to attend Oxford University and become a writer. Vera finds support from her younger brother, Edward (Taron Egerton) and his prep-school friend, Victor (Colin Morgan). But when she meets her brother’s other friend, the dashing and robust Roland (Kit Harington), her view on what she thought she believed significantly alters.