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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

'The Trench:' DVD: Exceptional Daniel Craig WWI Drama

The Trench DVD
The British WWI drama "The Trench," which BFS Entertainment has released on DVD, has a wonderful live-action feel and could very aptly have been called "All Tense on the Western Front." It has the bonus of a great cast of which current Bond actor Daniel Craig is merely part of a talented and well-cast ensemble.

The following 56-second clip, courtesy of YouTube, does a mostly good job conveying the theme of this film. The only criticism is that the actual fighting takes up a HUGELY disproportionate proportion of this clip of a film about waiting months for something to occur.
This film tells the tales of a group of British soldiers truly valiantly spending the months before the July 1, 1916 Battle of the Somme in the literal mud and other filth of the titular trench waiting for the bombardment to end and the fighting to commence. Although each character is cliched, the actors portray them well and make them sympathetic and/or relateable.

Craig plays a typical battle veteran sergeant who faces the challenge of advocating for his men without damaging his relationship with his superior officer, who often is someone with greater theoretical knowledge, a more privileged background, and less practical experience than both his sergeant and many of the doughboys under his command.

Julian Rhind-Tutt of "The Hour" and numerous other British television series, compassionately conveys all of the above characteristics in a believable manner that both makes Lieutenant Harte (generally) likable and makes one wonder why Rhind-Tutt was not cast at the 12th Doctor on "Doctor Who."

The more literal and figurative grunts in the trenches receive more focus than Harte or Craig's Winter.  Irish actor Cillian Murphy, who has appeared in the Christopher Nolan "Dark Knight" Trilogy and other American films, is arguably the best known member of this group to American audiences, but the others will likely be seen many many times in the future.

The highly effective stereotypes include a pair of brothers in which the younger one relies on the older one to help him through this ordeal and has a rough time when this older sibling suffers the consequences of boredom and peer-pressure induced carelessness. There is also the guy in the group who is always out to make a quick buck, the shy and heavy-set likable soldier, and the absolutely gorgeous lady killer with a terrific smile and enough confidence for five men until he suffers his personal trauma.

All of these elements combine to do a superb job portraying the boring and nerve-wracking elements of scurrying about in deep ditches while bombs are constantly bursting above you, enemy soldiers are not very far off, and you spend weeks waiting for an order to attack. Merely watching all this unfold makes those of us who get highly agitated simply waiting all day for the cable company wonder how the soldiers live through it without going absolutely mad.

Further, the few scenes of life outside the trench present an exceptional contrast to the world in that environment, and the scene that depicts the 30 minutes before the battle commences is one of the film's best.

Our friends at BFS enhance the release with special features that include a 48-minute documentary of the Western Front where the film occurs.

The final debriefing regarding "The Trench" is that it provides a great chance to learn more about life in the trenches as told by a cast that is equally at home on the stage and the sound set.

Anyone with questions regarding "The Trench" is welcome to email me; you can also find me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.