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King and Country1964

  • 3.7
In Joseph Losey's stirring anti-war film, a tough, no-nonsense British Army lawyer (Dick Bogarde) is assigned to defend a lowly private (Tom Courtenay) at his court martial. The private has been accused of desertion during battle. The lawyer, Captain Hargreaves, is convinced this young man should die. However, as the trial progresses and the strain of three horrible years endured at the Allied front is revealed, the more he is compelled to spare the youth from a firing squad. Winner of the British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Picture of 1964. Courtenay won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival.

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Winner of "Best Actor" at the 1964 Venice Film Festival.


1 member likes this review

Joseph Losey's King And Country (1964) Is a very good film. Although one might justifiably place it in some such genre as War I Films, such a taxonomic pigeon hole really doesn't do justice to this rather complex film.

This is clearly a film about class divisions in Great Britain, with the much educated, upper class officers passing judging on a lowly private charged with desertion, a lowly private who tells his upper crust military defense attorney that he quit school at 12 years old to become a cobbler, just like his father and grandfather before him.

It is a film about a long ago war when the full nature and extent of combat PTSD was not known, nor so much a concern of the officers in charge.

This is a film about a lowly working class stiff who volunteered for the army for love of country, very early on the war and, after enduring three years of relentless battle amidst the horrors of the trenches, wasn't given a "break", a second chance after the first blemish on his record.

This is a film about a military defense attorney, portraying the staid and "proper" British upper class demeanor, and just assuming that his client is guilty even before the trial has begun who, in the course successive personal contacts with his client undergoes somewhat of a transformation of personality and character, as the story of his client's "desertion" becomes an analogue in his mind for the futility of the Great War, a futility that neither side was willing to admit, while more and more young men were sent to their slaughter in a vain attempt to just to obscure the obvious truth of that futility.

This is a film about "just following orders", of "just following the rules", even when such blind obedience to such verbal prescriptions blinds us also to the utter humanity of the situation at hand.

The sober BW cinematography in this film relentlessly grinds these themes into our souls, as it gives us unrelenting shots of a mud drenched, claustrophobic environment, where it never stops raining, and where this bleak, hopeless atmosphere is punctuated by archival still photos that give us a close up, "in your face" look at the actual horrors of trench warfare.

This film is a quite compelling, and thought provoking portrayal of not only WW I, but also of the utter senselessness of fighting any war whatsoever.

191242.small
top reviewer

Member Reviews (1)

191242.small
top reviewer

Joseph Losey's King And Country (1964) Is a very good film. Although one might justifiably place it in some such genre as War I Films, such a taxonomic pigeon hole really doesn't do justice to this rather complex film.

This is clearly a film about class divisions in Great Britain, with the much educated, upper class officers passing judging on a lowly private charged with desertion, a lowly private who tells his upper crust military defense attorney that he quit school at 12 years old to become a cobbler, just like his father and grandfather before him.

It is a film about a long ago war when the full nature and extent of combat PTSD was not known, nor so much a concern of the officers in charge.

This is a film about a lowly working class stiff who volunteered for the army for love of country, very early on the war and, after enduring three years of relentless battle amidst the horrors of the trenches, wasn't given a "break", a second chance after the first blemish on his record.

This is a film about a military defense attorney, portraying the staid and "proper" British upper class demeanor, and just assuming that his client is guilty even before the trial has begun who, in the course successive personal contacts with his client undergoes somewhat of a transformation of personality and character, as the story of his client's "desertion" becomes an analogue in his mind for the futility of the Great War, a futility that neither side was willing to admit, while more and more young men were sent to their slaughter in a vain attempt to just to obscure the obvious truth of that futility.

This is a film about "just following orders", of "just following the rules", even when such blind obedience to such verbal prescriptions blinds us also to the utter humanity of the situation at hand.

The sober BW cinematography in this film relentlessly grinds these themes into our souls, as it gives us unrelenting shots of a mud drenched, claustrophobic environment, where it never stops raining, and where this bleak, hopeless atmosphere is punctuated by archival still photos that give us a close up, "in your face" look at the actual horrors of trench warfare.

This film is a quite compelling, and thought provoking portrayal of not only WW I, but also of the utter senselessness of fighting any war whatsoever.

1 member likes this review