Movie Review: Behind the Lines: Regeneration Movie Review

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¶ … film "Behind the Lines" is subtitled "Regeneration," in reference to the regeneration of the bodies and spirits of the wounded soldiers that was supposed to take place over the course of the film, to prepare them once again for battle. The soldiers are all victims of World War I. The film implies that they are also all victims of the folly of the previous European generation of leaders. The film accuses the reigning British aristocracy of seeking to wage a war to defend their aristocratic way of life. To visually highlight this ideology, the film begins with a panorama of 'no man's land,' the barbed wire killing fields were eking out one's existence was almost impossible.

The film, in chronicling the rehabilitation of British soldiers, thus makes a case that the 'war to end all wars' was actually a class-based war, waged by the rich for the sake of preserving their way of life, that killed both the next generations, of rich and working-class young men. The film focuses on the lives of two famous British wartime poets whose convalescence at a real-life hospital, located in a castle, happened to coincide. The main protagonist is a psychologist who is in conflict about how to treat his patients, especially an entirely fictional character, added by the filmmakers, of a working class officer.

Body -- Historical Accuracy and Thematic Analysis

Although the film is set behind the battle lines, the presence of the futile 'no man's land' is present in the minds and the images of the entire film. The film is structured in a serious of flashbacks, flashing from wartime past to present, from present to the childhoods of the young men. The ever-present tyranny of the aristocracy is underlined by the location of the film, a Scottish Castle that was used as a military hospital for wounded officers. This is based upon an actual wartime 'truth,' namely that such old relics of the past gentry were used as hospitals. The image also creates a poignant and pointed backdrop that underlines the main themes of the film visually, namely that the beauty of such old ways of life was not worth the tremendous suffering used to preserve such a way of living.

The film also chronicles some notable intellectual developments of the period unrelated to war, such as the development of the field of psychology as a way of treating soldiers and other individuals with mental problems. The main character of the film, Dr. William Rivers, is a therapist. Rivers' job is to counsel the men, but only so they are well enough to fight again. In other words, he is supposed to help sane men driven mad by combat become sane again, so they can go back to a mad war. Also, there is the question if it is so 'insane' to go mad in the face of war. The doctor experiences a great deal of conflict about this state of affairs, given that the men are forced to undergo insane directives when fighting the war, such as proceeding into no man's land.

The setting is a real-life former hospital. One of the reasons that the location of the castle is known so well, even today, is that two of the greatest wartime poets convalesced at the castle's hospital, Siegfried Sassoon, and William Owen, coincidentally at the same time. Sassoon was a war protestor. Owens was a war victim. Thus the two real-life poets form a nice, ideological representation of the different 'options' open to men of the aristocratic classes. ("Siegfried Sassoon," 2005)

Wilfred Owen was the author of "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori: it is sweet and honorable to die for your country," and this poem and other poetic works of the period are a kind of refrain during the film, as a historical referent and also as a poetic way of rendering the character's suffering.

The events from Owen's own life are also used to show that Dr. Rivers' guilt is not misplaced, and although historically accurate, they are also eerily appropriate and give a clear moral to the film. "Owen was injured in March 1917 and sent home; he was fit for duty in August, 1918, and returned to the front. November 4, just seven days… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Behind the Lines: Regeneration Movie Review.  (2005, November 10).  Retrieved August 20, 2019, from

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"Behind the Lines: Regeneration Movie Review."  10 November 2005.  Web.  20 August 2019. <>.

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"Behind the Lines: Regeneration Movie Review."  November 10, 2005.  Accessed August 20, 2019.