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Testament of Youth

March 2, 2017

toyI found the book moving – so with this film version.The book inspired a generation to become pacifists but their commitment ebbed away with the coming of Hitler.

Though the war was followed by a slew of books about it, Vera Brittain’s account of her own experiences has been regarded as unique. It did not appear in the war’s immediate aftermath, partly because the aspiring writer didn’t know how to deal with her memories. She first tried writing a novel, which she shelved as a failure, a judgment she also made against a subsequent attempt to make a book by fictionalizing journals and letters. It was only later, inspired by filmmaker John Grierson’s coining of the term “documentary,” that she decided to craft a nonfiction account of her experiences, which became an instant bestseller upon its publication in 1933.

The film was shot in various locations in Yorkshire, Oxford and London. The railway station scenes, the train interiors, and the scene in the railway café, were shot at Keighley Station, using trains provided by the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. The landscape shots of period trains were filmed at the heritage track of the The North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire provided several locations, including the scenes at Uppingham school, Melrose house and the Etaples field hospital. The lake scenes were filmed in Darley Dale in Derbyshire.

Vera Brittain: If this word should turn out to be a ‘Te moriturum saluto,’ perhaps it will brighten the dark moments a little to think how you have meant to someone more than anything ever has or ever will. What you have striven for will not end in nothing, all that you have done and been will not be

Vera Brittain: I wondered if he was looking up at that same moon, far away, and thinking of me as I was thinking of him.” “‘I can scarcely bear to think of him ,’ I wrote, ‘and yet I cannot bear to think of anything else. For the time being all people, all ideas, all interests have set, and sunk below the horizon of my mind; he alone I can contemplate, whom of all things in heaven and earth it hurts to think about most.'” Perhaps… Perhaps some day the sun will shine again, And I shall see that still the skies are blue, And feel one more I do not live in vain, Although bereft of you.

Winifred Holtby: All of us are surrounded by ghosts. Now we need to learn how to live with them.

Vera Brittain: They’ll want to forget you. They’ll want me to forget. But I can’t. I won’t. This is my promise to you now. All of you.

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