Testament Of Youth

7.32 h 9 min2015PG-13
During World War I, Oxford University student Vera Brittain postpones her studies to serve as a nurse while her suitor, her brother, and a secret admirer face death in the trenches.
James Kent
Alicia VikanderKit HaringtonTaron Egerton
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Colin MorganEmily WatsonDominic WestHayley AtwellMiranda RichardsonAnna ChancellorCharlotte HopeJoanna ScanlanJonathan Bailey
David HeymanRosie Alison
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Foul languagesexual contentviolence
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4.5 out of 5 stars

1357 global ratings

  1. 71% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 8% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

DaniReviewed in the United States on April 19, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Beautiful, true, and heartbreaking...
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I came across this movie while I was stuck in my room waiting for my online class for Intro To British Lit to start. I was just bumming around on Amazon looking for new movies to watch that I’ve never seen. After seeing films like Hacksaw Ridge, Tolkien, and 1917 last month, I’ve noticed an interesting trend with war films: World War 1 is now becoming the “popular” war for film plots. For the longest time, The Vietnam War was the war that most people made movies about for decades, and certain films immediately come to mind. The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Dogfight, the list goes on. While these films aren’t terrible and show the harsh realities of war, the war itself is never shown in its infancy and how it destroys the innocent lives of the men and women who are involved.

World War 1 was a special war because it brought new technology like tanks and tear gas into the battlefield. It killed at least 20 million people, 9.7 million men in the military, and 10 million military civilians. Naturally, in war films, they’re gritty, depressing, and disturbing. They’re also hardly ever female-friendly, showing men pissing in public, locker room language and subject matter that screams to women “this is not made for you.” Testament of Youth is the exception to the rule but still manages to show how painful war can be for the outsider. Based on the true story of Vera Brittan, Testament of Youth follows Vera (Alicia Vikander) in the years before and after the war. Her brother Edward (Taron Egerton), his friend, Victor(Dominic West), and her boyfriend, Roland(Kit Harrington), all deal with World War 1 in their own way.

Surrounding this film is the love story between Vera and Roland, which is so innocent and romantic in the best way possible. Their love story was my favorite part of the whole movie. There are no sex scenes, yet there’s something sensual about their relationship. It was funny watching their chaperoned dates, their first kiss, and moments where they shared a love for writing and books. When Roland’s worried that the war broke his spirit, it’s both heartbreaking and beautiful the way Vera holds him while he cries. Vera had to struggle with her brother, boyfriend, and friend being overseas while she is studying English in college, and it’s shown in an aching, realistic way. She just wants the boys in her life to be safe and come home safe. She clings to Roland’s letters because they are all she has of him.

I was surprised to find out that this movie wasn’t directed by a woman, because this is a very flowery, female-friendly movie(This film was directed by TV director James Kent). While the horrors of war are shown, they’re not on full display and gratuitously violent. The emotional and psychological aspects of soldiers not coming home the same plays a big role in the film. There are voyeuristic shots of Kit Harrington’s lips, face, smile, hands, and skin that are both sexual and innocent at the same time, filmed with a creamy pastel lens. The cinematography is very soft and bright with beigy pink hues. War scenes are shown in bleak grays and muddy browns. The viewer is constantly put in Vera’s point of view with a cinematically filtered poetry, paper, and books. As a woman, I didn’t feel that alienated feeling that most war films made me feel with the machismo attitude and testosterone energy surrounding them. That masculine energy is the reason why I love action movies, but it’s nice to find a war film aside from Megan Leavy and G.I. Jane was made keeping women in mind. This wasn’t just a war story, it was also a love story and the chemistry between Vera and Roland was amazing.

The acting is also fantastic. This is one of Kit Harrington’s best movies and Alicia Vikander, once again, plays a character who’s relatable and awesome. Taron Egerton is the smiling relief and every time he smiles, it’s like a breath of fresh air. This movie made me ugly cry, laugh at the few happy moments, and profoundly think about the impact of how it affects people who aren’t on the front lines. It was brilliant.
46 people found this helpful
Adam HendronReviewed in the United States on June 27, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Sophistry Sublime
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The film is extremely well made, poignant and touching. I cried several times. However, it is indeed a testament to youthful ignorance, moving the emotions and leaving reason behind. All the suffering, so exquisitely portrayed, is made an appeal to "say no to war." But in the given context of resisting German conquest, what is the alternative? Instead of laying down our lives shall we lay down our ideals? The author questions whether to fight is the honorable thing. Meanwhile, our enemies have indeed taken the war to a different front: entertainment media is attacking the minds of our youth until there shall be nothing honorable left to defend.
15 people found this helpful
AnanomousReviewed in the United States on June 19, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Finding meaning in the youthful tragedy that was WWI
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SHORT VERSION: This movie made me think deeply about life, death, global events, career choices, love, tragedy, and the purpose of it all. It was cinematically well done with a powerful message. Please watch this.

LONG VERSION: This is a movie about a woman who seeks to find meaning in a war that on the surface seems pretty meaningless. Young men eagerly enlisted to prove their manliness and nationalistic patriotism, and their families proudly sent them. 20 million of them were killed. I am a park ranger at a Civil War battlefield and I frequently talk to visitors about how the 750,000 Americans killed in the Civil War was up until recently more American war deaths than any of our other wars combined. Yet at least then I can point to the purpose of the conflict and say that it was a worthy goal: to end the enslavement of people in the United States. But back to this film, as Americans we cannot fathom 20 million deaths, even though our ancestors participated in the final months of the conflict. We often skip ahead to the 75 million who died in WWII, in a war that almost all Americans can consider to be worth fighting. But the more I study WWI, the more meaningless that conflict seems, the more horrifying it is to me that all that death and suffering could have been prevented had people not been so eager to prove that their nation was the greatest. That is what I like about this film. It is sad to be sure, as viewers watch the protagonist, Vera, lose every young man she ever cared about: her brother, her fiancé, and her friends. And at the end she must question why. Did these people that she loved so deeply die for anything at all? Why were they even born to begin with if they would die before they could accomplish any of those big dreams they had before the war? That speech she gave at the end was so powerful and addressed some of these questions. Trust me, this movie is worth your time.

It also left me thinking about youth itself. I am 23, still pretty young, but this pandemic made me feel a lot less youthful and left me feeling disillusioned when I look at the world at large. Graduating college in the spring of 2020 made me feel like I had spent my whole life preparing to enter a world that no longer existed. Granted, this is nothing compared to Vera's college experience, as she fought so hard to get into Oxford only to leave after her first semester to be a nurse on the front lines. After the war she didn't know who she was anymore or if that writing career she used to long for would be worthwhile in a world so devastated by war. The stories she used to read and the poems she used to write lost their relevance. But by the end of the film, she found her purpose; she found meaning in the tragedy, and wrote what is now considered to be among the most powerful memoirs in human history. I need to read it now.
9 people found this helpful
Lisa D.Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Stunning, brutal and brilliant
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I came upon this film rather casually - it showed up in my "recommendations," yet had never heard of it before. It possessed everything I expect from a lush and romantic British period piece, and much more. What I hadn't anticipated is where this WW1 film would take me: A journey through the raw and rare true-life witness of a woman who lived through it all, and lost so much - her lover, her brother, her male friends. All to the most devastating war in history. She abandons her very unique and privileged acceptance as a literary woman, and would-be writer at Oxford University, to volunteer as a nurse, first at home in Britain treating the hopeful wounded, with a chance at real survival, to the front where the conditions were horrific and the severely wounded were hopelessly savaged by battle injuries with too little medical/surgical help to save them, let alone make their death's peaceful. Without saying more - lest I spoil the movie - do not expect a quick happy ending to this engrossing drama. But will share that with this experience came the gift of the remarkable woman and writer who has gifted us with the autobiographical novel from which this based, "Testament of Youth," by Vera Brittain.
5 people found this helpful
Charles HeckelReviewed in the United States on February 24, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Desperate Beauty
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One of those very soundly researched and authentically produced and acted British productions, featuring Alicia Vikander in the role of Vera Brittain. As a well-brought-up young woman subjected to the horrors and tribulatons of nursing in a World War I encampment behind the front lines, she manages desperation with a wonderful gravitas, and in this story of loves lost to war she brings a remarkable light.
25 people found this helpful
ldemarReviewed in the United States on May 12, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
just LOVE Alicia Vikander for the roles she chooses to embody
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this is a movie about how/when we discover that nothing is what it seems and that all we can really do with our lives is be open to the one person in front of us at this minute

Alicia always picks these roles of female strength enough to love unconditionally, stripped down to the bone, to that thing ....wait a minute I don't have to attempt a clumsy description because ALICIA EXPLAINS IT WITHOUT WORDS AT 1HR 3MINS IN....so watch the movie. : )

Other than this, nothing i can say would be meaningful so i will just add a few quotes from the movie that meant so much to me...


4 people found this helpful
SbandanteReviewed in the United States on July 15, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Loved it even more the second time
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Movies about WWI are always horribly ugly. The human suffering on all sides, for the soldiers and the people who loved them. This is a delicate love story set in the midst of horror. There is nothing that pulls it back from the brink, and yet it is a beautiful, soul satisfying film, acted with such tenderness by these young people, as they lose their innocence to the brutality of slaughter. The point is profoundly made that war is the most hideous of human follies. All of the actors are wonderful, and Alicia Vikander in the lead role is a study in restraint. Her face, so young and flawless, breaks into laughter or tears in the most dramatic moments, but so much is said in her stillness, and her eyes. The young men, especially Kit Harrington, are charming and boyish, as they leave home and face the brutal insanity that awaits them. It's a heartbreaking movie, but there is some consolation in the fact that it's a true story, and Vera Britain went on to write the book it was based on. I'm a huge fan of British historical dramas and this one is absolutely excellent.
2 people found this helpful
jagadeesanReviewed in the United States on June 12, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Kind of good
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Why only "kind of?" Alicia Vikander is a frail waif like creature, too insubstantial to be the great Vera Brittain. Perhaps it is a personal gripe, but why do movie women have to be so thin a good breeze would blow them over? The men are encouraged to buff up. Not fair. My second problem is too much blubbering. The many tragedies give Alicia plenty of chances to ACT, but the Brits are known for stiff-upper-lipness. Even though James Kent tried hard to make real life, that and Alicia's overblown speech at the end kept me from believing it.
3 people found this helpful
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