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Behind the Lines

Where to Watch Behind the Lines

R
1997

Behind the Lines is a compelling World War I drama from 1997 that presents a thought-provoking look at the profound psychological effects of war on soldiers. Anchored by the remarkable performances from an ensemble cast that includes Jonathan Pryce, James Wilby, and Jonny Lee Miller, the film offers an unflinching portrayal of the minds ravaged by war and the quest for salvation amidst chaos.

Jonathan Pryce plays the character of Captain William Rivers, a military psychiatrist tasked with the daunting responsibility of preparing shell-shocked soldiers to return to the front lines. The movie commences with a depressed and lethargic atmosphere, a reflection of the war-torn times, where Rivers, torn between duty and empathy, strives to heal the shattered minds of his patients.

The performances of James Wilby and Jonny Lee Miller stand out. Wilby's character, Robert Graves, is a fellow officer and poet whose friendship with war-poet Siegfried Sassoon provides the emotional groundwork upon which much of the film is built. Miller portrays Billy Prior, a young private with mutism, whose recover forms a significant subplot in the film. Their complex characters and the exigency of their situations breathe life into the narrative and infuse it with depth and complexity.

Behind the Lines focuses on the trials of Sassoon, played by Wilby with sensitivity and sublime conviction. Having publicly protested against the continuation of the war, Sassoon is deemed mentally unfit and sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital for treatment. His assertion that war is senseless and personally destructive becomes a key theme of the film. The figure of Pryce's Dr. Rivers provides a moral contrast to Sassoon's views, torn as he is between his duty to heal men for the sole purpose of sending them back into the destructive vortex of war, and his personal empathy for those afflicted.

The film does a stirring job of showcasing the innovative treatment methods pioneered during that era. There's a particularly poignant tale of Miller's character, Billy Prior, who experiences complete voice loss due to the trauma. The desperation, frustration, and gradual acceptance and recovery experienced by the character is portrayed with a brutal honesty that adds a considerable weight to the overall narrative.

The cinematography of Behind the Lines paints a stark picture of the gloomy, desolate backdrop of the war hospital contrasting it with the fleeting moments of brightness and hope that evolve from the characters' struggles against their inner demons.

The complexity of these main characters combines with the inherently gripping storyline to deliver an emotional narrative on the impacts of war on the human psyche. This is not a film about the glory of war but rather a deep and thoughtful exploration of its grim aftermath on the minds of those who participate in it. Yet, at times, it also beautifully captures the fragility and resilience of the human spirit.

The film highlights a new perspective on war than we typically see in cinema, focusing heavily on the psychological aspects and aftermath rather than the physical combat. It helps that the script often turns to poetry, in combination with performances that resonate with authenticity and intensity.

Behind the Lines is a thoughtful and soul-stirring film that portrays the horrors of war and the strength of the human spirit against adversity. This proved to be a powerful, revealing examination of the psychological traumas faced by World War I soldiers and the pioneering efforts to begin understanding and treating these previously ignored afflictions. This movie's value is in its cerebral exploration, not just of the war’s effects on the human mind, but also on the moral implications of healing men enough to send them back to the front lines.

Behind the Lines is a blend of drama, history, and psychology, offering audiences a chance to experience war from a perspective not often explored in films. The engaging performances and compelling narrative make it a rewarding watch for those who appreciate war films that take an inside look at the human experience involved in these historic events.

Behind the Lines is a Drama, War movie released in 1997. It has a runtime of 96 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.0..

7.0/10
Director
Gillies Mackinnon
Stars
Jonathan Pryce, James Wilby, Jonny Lee Miller, Stuart Bunce, Tanya Allen, David Hayman, Dougray Scott, John Neville, Paul Young, Alastair Galbraith, Eileen Nicholas, Julian Fellowes
Genres
Behind the Lines is available on .