I watched the WWI movie, Journey’s End, for the first time the other day, on a Danish streaming service for my broadband internet. The movie was released in 2017, so sure – I’m late to the party.
The movie was basically about a small group of people dealing with the stress of past and upcoming battles in the muddy trenches of Aisne, 1918. There are in particular three officers that we follow, one of which is a captain that’s losing his mind to PTSD. As such the drama and the acting is absolutely top notch.
Yet, the movie didn’t quite work for me.
The problem is that 99% of the movie takes place in the officers quarters and the trench, with people worrying and talking. The actual war action is very limited, and even when it does happen, not much is seen apart from a few bombs going off. No doubt budget reasons played a role, and I also understand that the story was originally a theater play.
But the way the movie starts with the captain already starting to lose his marbles, right after the young second lieutenant Raleigh joins, shows that they have already been through a lot of hell at this point. But we don’t really know what that is.
Sure, we already know about how the trench warfare in the first world war was absolutely excruciating. We have seen the footage. However, a bad design in movies is where there’s too much telling and not showing. This movie doesn’t even bother to do that. It merely trusts that you’re already aware of this.
It’s not because I love war action and people dying all over the place. I despise war as much as anyone. But I still believe a rough and loud scene of war to begin the movie would have made the captain’s worries so much more impactful. It would have brought me a lot more under the skin of him and his comrades.
It would have made for a much better movie to me.