Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ridiculously excited about the arrival of a DVD

«In Flanders' Fields» - published & illustrated in 1918 by stoixeia
«In Flanders' Fields» - published & illustrated in 1918, a photo by stoixeia on Flickr.

Back in 1979 the BBC produced a 5 part series based on Vera Brittain's book "Testament of Youth". It was a superb piece of drama that made quite an impact on me. It wasn't until reading the book that I realised how young they all were and how young the platoon leaders were - Roland was straight out of boarding school and was put in charge of 60 or so men. I have reread the book a few times over the years but the series has only been repeated once or twice. I happened to notice last week that it was released on dvd in 2010 so I just had to order a copy and it finally arrived today.

Also worth watching is "A Woman in Love and War: Vera Brittain" which was a BBC docu-drama.

I have also read "Letters From a Lost Generation - First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends" which gave even greater insight into the personal tragedies caused by the war. It also gave some insight into the thoughts of well-off, privileged young Edwardians. Some of them are quite disconcerting:

In a letter from Flanders,  Roland writes to Vera about 2 graves close by to where he is sitting writing the letter - one of a private and one of a Major:

I cannot help thinking of the two together and of the greater value of the one. What a pity it is that the same piece of lead takes away as easily a brilliant life and one that is merely vegetation.

With statements like that no wonder there was great social reform after WWI.

I've never reread the book of letters perhaps now will be an ideal time to reread both books. Despite "Testament of Youth" being one of my top 10 books I have never felt the urge to read the next 2 autobiographical volumes "Testament of Friendship" and "Testament of Experience". The last 2 volumes are out of print so I'll have to buy them second-hand as they also don't have any of the books in the local library.  "Testament of Friendship" should be a good follow-up to the recent watching of South Riding" as it's about her friendhip with Winifred Holtby.

Here's a youtube snippet of a "Testament of Youth"

No comments: