2014 may have marked one hundred years since the beginning of World War I, but this fall and winter the war movie genre has largely been dominated by films about World War II. Original drama Fury and biographical films The Imitation Game and Unbroken should definitely be on the to-watch list for history fans, but perhaps studios are holding off on releasing World War I movies until the slightly less morbid anniversary of Armistice Day in 2018.
There is one biographical drama on the way that is set during World War I, and which managed to commemorate the centenary by premiering during London Film Festival this year: James Kent’s Testament of Youth, an adaptation of the autobiography of the same name by writer and pacifist Vera Brittain. With the theatrical UK release set for January 2015, a new trailer for Testament of Youth has just been released, showcasing what looks like a solid – if rather generic – period drama.
Testament of Youth stars Alicia Vikander (The Fifth Estate) as Brittain and Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) as her fiancé Roland Leighton. The film tells the story of Brittain’s early life, her invitation to study at Oxford, and her decision to delay her studies to work as a V.A.D. nurse after Roland, her brother Edward (Taron Egerton) and her two close friends Victor Richardson (Colin Morgan) and Geoffrey Thurlow (Jonathan Bailey) were all sent to the front lines.
Testament of Youth marks Kent’s first venture outside of TV movie territory, which might be why this feels so much like a trailer for a TV movie. The autobiography was adapted by Juliette Towhidi, who also wrote the screenplay for recent romcom Love, Rosie.
Based on the subtitle, Remembrance for a Lost Generation, it looks like Testament of Youth will also draw on “Letters from a Lost Generation”, a collection of letters between Brittain and her four friends that’s an excellent companion piece for Testament of Youth. Both texts are often required reading for school courses about World War I, so if nothing else Testament of Youth could end up being a go-to classroom film.
Testament of Youth releases on January 16th in UK theaters, but doesn’t yet have a US release date.