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The Trench (1999)
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Directed by: William Boyd
Script by: William Boyd
Status: Premiere May 12-23 1999 - Cannes
Genre: WWI War Drama
Runtime: 99 min
Production Studio: Arts Council of England, Blue PM, Bonaparte Films
Country: UK, France
Co-Stars: Daniel Craig, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Danny Dyer, Paul Nichols, Ben Whishaw, Cillian Murphy
DVD & Blue-ray Release:
DVD Region 2 (2000)
Role: Private Colin Daventry
The educated & cynical private who sees through the official lies
James about his character: I’m playing the character of Daventry, who is the slightly cynical member of the group. He’s the only character really, with perhaps the exception of the officers, who understands that the chances are ‘we are all going to die’ where everybody else is very exited over the prospect of going over the top and killing “Jerrys” or whatever. I think Daventry is the one guy who sort of understands that the bombardment isn’t working and the wires haven’t been cut and the chances are they are all going to die.
Plot: The story of a group of young British soldiers on the eve of the Battle of Somme in the summer of 1916, the worst defeat in British military history. By the evening, 60,000 British soldiers were dead. Against this ill-fated backdrop, the movie depicts the experience of the soldiers confined to a trench on the front lines as a mixture of fear, boredom, panic and restlessness.
Trivia & Facts:
- The entire film takes place in the trench, which was constructed in a studio. As there wasn't enough room in it for the steadycam operator, Boyd had his cast act out the scenes in full as a camera slung on a pole captured the action. It meant the actors couldn't see him and sometimes couldn't even see the camera. So along with an air of claustrophobia comes a sense of the cramped intimacy the soldiers had to put up with month after month.
- To prepare for their roles, the actors spent time living in an actual trench, where they were fed rations of stew laced with mud.
- The director’s grandfather *(at Passchendaele) and great-uncle (Somme) were survivors of the WWI trenches.
- The Trench is William Boyd’s first foray into film-making as he is highly-regard novelist & screenwriter
- It's a film debut of Ben Whishaw.
Film Location: Bray Film Studios near Windsor Castle (Windsor, Berkshire)
Awards & Nominations:
Nominated British Independent Film Award: Best Achievement in Production
Despite its "theatrical" feel at times, and the constraints of its setting, this is a fine and evocative film, with an excellent cast. Paul Nicholls, Danny Dyer and James D'Arcy are not alone in giving faultless performances