Movies about famous battles are nothing new and after Dunkirk, we have another one looking forward to. Journey’s End is an adaptation of the well-known play by R.C. Sherriff. It depicts the days from March 18 until March 22 of 1918, a few months before World War One ended. Every Company is at the front line for six days before they are changing and every Company waits for the German attack, which they know will come, but no one knows when it will happen.
We follow the C Company, a group of officers, led by Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin), to the front line and they know that a German attack is imminent. Stanhope, however, knows that survival is very unlikely as the trenches and weapons are in poor condition, and the supplies and munitions are worn-out. Not long after, the young man Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) joins the Company and Lieutenant Osborne (Paul Bettany), the first in command, seems to like him. Raleigh is also an old school friend of Stanhope, who is the reason why he wanted to join the C company, as Stanhope had once told Raleigh to find him if he should ever join the military.
The group of men prepares for the German attack, while we also get to know them a bit better. Raleigh has never been to the front line and seems to be quite excited about it, though Stanhope is clearly mentally damaged by what he has experienced in the war so far.
Soon after they took their places in the trenches, those in charge are informed that the Germans will attack in just two days and that they won’t get any help from behind. The Company will have to fight on their own and somehow resist the Germans. Due to that knowledge, it is decided that two men will lead a raid the day before in an attempt to capture a German soldier. Those two are Raleigh and Osborne, who will lead a group of ten men. On the day, Osborne hands his most prized possessions to Stanhope with the request to send these to his wife in case he doesn’t make it. Even though the raid is successful, only four men can make it back to the trenches and among the victims is Lieutenant Osborne.
On March 21, the Germans start to attack the British trenches, who suffer major losses.
Journey’s End is definitely a movie that you should only go and see if you like war movies. If not it really isn’t for you, as the storyline is quite mundane. Though the movie really focused on the characters and how they are dealing with the imminent attack, unlike Dunkirk which focused more on what actually had happened.
I really liked the different approach, and it was interesting to see how differently each character had experienced the war until that time. Especially Stanhope and Raleigh couldn’t have been more different. Raleigh seemed rather naïve and didn’t really quite grasp the imminent threat, which was especially clear after the first day when he announced that they only had five days left in a rather cheerful tone. In comparison, the war had taken quite the toll on Stanhope and in order to endure their time at the front line, he had turned to alcohol.
The other three characters – 2nd Lieutenant Hibbert (Tom Sturridge), Private Mason (Toby Jones), and 2nd Lieutenant Trotter (Stephen Graham) – are another great addition to the group of men, as they, along with Osborne, present another experience of the war. They weren’t extremely naïve about the war like Raleigh, but they also weren’t as damaged by it as Stanhope was. They have a very realistic view on the war and what might happen in the next days, which was obvious when Osborne gave his most prized possessions to Stanhope before.
The performances of all actors were phenomenal and especially Claflin’s stuck in one’s mind. The role was extremely different than the ones he played before, and it really showed how talented the Brit really is.
It is definitely a must watch for everyone who likes the genre, and if you are a fan of Sam Claflin’s, then you will have a great time watching Journey’s End.
Journey’s End was part of this year’s London Film Festival and will have its general release on February 2 in the UK.