Testament of Youth - Red Carpet Interviews London Film Festival LFF

The cast and crew of Testament of Youth gathered on the red-carpet recently for the world-premiere of their film at this years BFI London Film Festival [Tuesday 14th October]. Our Editor-In-Chief, Charlie Green, who is covering the festival went along to speak to the director and producer about the film:

Considered one of the greatest war memoirs ever written, the Testament of Youth is a true-life account of Vera Brittian's life from 1914 - 1918, and a chronicle of how the First World War affected not only her, but the nation's lives. The film stars: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Colin Morgan, Jonathan Bailey, Taron Egerton, Dominic West, Emily Watson and Hayley Atwell... [Full Review]

"It is not just an elegy for the First World War loss, its for all people lost in all wars. I hope it gives this singled window on man's inhumanity, and encourages us all to avoid war if we possibly can..." - Producer, Rosie Alison

Was it hard to find the right Vera Brittain?

James Kent (Director) - You know what, it was not hard once we had met Alicia, I knew Alicia was the right Vera, I don't know if others will agree. But to me she has incredibly powerful sensibilities and I needed a Vera who would transcend ordinariness and be somebody that you would fall in love with and make you weep. That is what Alicia Vikander has, she had so many qualities that a director looks for. She is a real-star in the making, I believe that. She has kind of a mix of Ingrid Bergman and bits of Audrey Hepburn. She is a very special person and reminds me of the great screen icons in the past great actresses, and she is the same for the modern era.

What message do you expect audiences to take from the film?

James Kent (Director) - It was a story really about finding your voice in life. She was a young girl, she wanted to go to Oxford, she wanted to be a writer - and she thought that all of those things would be enough, but the tragedy of the war gave her voice. In other words, in order to say something in the world you need to have an experienced life. You can't just begin to rise. I think that that is a lesson to everyone that in order to voice who you truly are, don't panic - it will come. But allow yourself to be open to life's experiences, because it will make you the unique person that you truly be. We can all appeal to that.

Rosie Alison (Producer) - Well, two messages really. Number one that Vera is this sort of indestructible, anthem to the human spirit, there is a sort of optimism about the fact that she goes through so much and yet she survives and still wants to live and go on in life. The other message really is that is an elegy for all of those in that lost generation. It is not just an elegy for the First World War loss, its for all lost people in all wars. I hope it gives this single window on man's inhumanity to man, and encourage us all to avoid war if we possibly can.

Testament Of Youth

How does it feel to be releasing the film in time for the World War One memorial?

James Kent (Director) - I didn't think that we would do it in time, it is huge thrill to have it ready for Remembrance day, November 11th. I think it will mean something very special in this country to know this film is coming out a few weeks later. It means a lot. I am a documentary maker, and I really believe that you need to find the right moment to make a film, this seems to be the right moment to make this one.

Rosie Alison (Producer) - Well we were always very keen to get, if we could, to get this film out for Remembrance. We have failed in the sense that the film comes out in January, but at least we have the film festival showings, so it is sort of our there. Awards, I mean who knows? I would love to get the film there. I feel that Alicia does such a stunning performance, I would love for her to be a contender for everything in sights. But you never know how these things work.

Do you feel that there is something in here for younger audiences, who might perhaps of been desensitized by seeing war on TV that this is a message about how it was for young people growing up in the war?

Rosie Alison (Producer) - Yes, I really do think that, I think that it is quite hard for people to take on the whole scale of the First World War, because there is such statistics and distance photographs and the scale of it is impossible to comprehend and what Vera offers is this very intimate singled window onto this vast tragedy, and I think she is a much more accessible route to understanding what happened then.

Testament of Youth arrives in UK cinemas 16th January 2015. You can read our 4/5 review here.

Page Last Updated:
October 22, 2014 PM

Words By:
Charlie Green
Charlie Green


BFI London Film Festival

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