Testament of Youth revolves around a girl named Vera and how are life was completely changed by the war. The movie starts of with her, her brother (Edward), and Edward’s friend Victor. Edward and Vera are best friends, as they do everything together. Edward wishes that Vera would date his friend Victor and she does not seem as interested as he does. One day, Victor’s brother, Roland, shows up to the Britain’s household and Roland and Vera instantly fall in love. Roland was the only man who seemed to support Vera’s dream of attending college and becoming a writer, which made her love him even more. They then planned to attend Oxford together after she was accepted. Then, the war began and both Edward and Roland were eager to volunteer for the military to finally have a chance to “be a man”. In the meantime, Vera could not live with herself sitting around doing nothing for the war so she took leave from school and volunteered to be a nurse so she could “do her part”. When Roland comes home for leave, he is cold and a new guy. Vera embraces him and he breaks down to explain to her that he cannot get soft while home. After, he asks her to marry him when he is on leave next. On the wedding day, Vera receives a call from his mother that he was dead. Continuing to nurse, she then finds Victor blind in a hospital bed. Knowing that she lost Roland, she asks him to marry her but he denies. He then dies the next day. Shaken from his death, she decides to ship out to France to be a nurse at the front to be closer to Edward. There, she helps German soldiers. While there, she also finds an almost dead Edward. She was terrified and heartbroken at the thought of losing both her brother, Victor, and her fiancé. She takes him from the pile of bodies and nurses him till he is well enough to ship to Italy. He assures he will be safe and she trusts his word. She then returns home due to a letter from her father requesting she does so. While cleaning and doing chores, a boy in uniform comes to deliver the telegraph that Edward had died. The war ends shortly after, but she is never the same. She never leaves bed, can’t focus on school, and is physically drained. Another girl who also worked during the war talks to her and tries to get her well again. While walking, she encounters a rally of people planning revenge for Germany for killing their men. Vera becomes furious and rises and explains that they are men jus like our men. Their families are mourning them the same way and that they suffered the same way. She finished by saying war is not the answer because no one should have to suffer what anyone had to during this war. The movie then ended by her starting to live her life back to normal.
This movie had many similar ideas that we saw in the books we read. One being from Not so Quiet with the repetition of “Do your bit”. In the movie, Vera just kept repeating that nothing else mattered in the world right now because they needed to “do their part”. This part was repeated by men and women all throughout the movie. Another similarity I saw with this book was that Vera was an upper class woman doing dirty war work just like Nellie. Nellie and Vera also lost everyone who truly mattered to them in the war.
This movie came to show how society had no idea what the reality was of war. The things we read for class that talked about how men were not even human was perfectly displayed in this movie. When Roland came home for the first time he was cold, and mean seeming to people who were home like Vera. He then had a break down, like Paul from All Quiet.
I have not cried this hard at a movie in a long time. I can’t even begin to describe how eye opening this movie was. If you have never seen it, you NEED to watch it. It is based on true experiences from a nurse in the war. Before this class I knew war was awful, but after reading what we have read and seeing this movie, it makes me tear up at just the thought, absolutely heartbreaking.
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