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4.4 out of 5 stars47
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 14 November 2004
I had not read Barker's trilogy before seeing the film. Indeed I tuned in to it by accident when it was on TV.

To say that I was gripped is understatement. I was also intensely moved, not merely by the plight of the mentally scarred men at Craiglockhart,(and NOT just Billy Prior), and by the poetry of both Sassoon and Owen; but above all by the astonishing portrayal by Jonathan Pryce of Major Rivers. Here is a man caught in the conundrum of healing the minds of soldiers, of clearing away the mental wall which they have thrown up to forget the horrors they have witnessed, but doing so knowing that they will be immediately returned to those horrors once he has cured them. And the depiction of Rivers' own declining mental state as he too comes to suffer the same symptoms as his patients almost by association was for me unforgettable.

It matters not that the film does not stick rigidly to the books. This is a film which stands out in its own right - moving, sensitive, superbly acted, and one which nobody who stands still for two minutes on Armistice Day at the eleventh hour should miss.
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on 12 October 2002
The strength of this piece is that is based around a real incident and several character who really live--Owen, Sassoon, Rivers-In this film, they carry the rest along so you get time to know the more minor characters who have just as harrowing stories of their own in this world of shellshock. The drama is excellent, especially the spooky premonitions of Owen's death, the location is just right for the Gloomy Craiglockhart War Hospital (which really existed and si now part of Napier Uni in Edinburgh) and we get a good idea of what these patients, and the doctors who tried to help with their problem AND sheild them from the official line which calls them cowards. We are given a true sense of how awful shellshock was, without slimy sentimemtality spoiling the message. The actors, especially James Wilby and Stuart Bunce are well chosen for their roles (Sassoon and Owen respectively, and help to makethe whole thing convincing, but what really 'did it' for me was Pryce's potrail of compassionate Doctor William Rivers. I have studied this remarkable man for some time and Pryce's portrayal of him, including the stammer and chronic fatigue was just how i expected Rivers to have been--even down to the voice. Watch it if you have any interest in war, psychology, psychotherapy, or if you can't believe shellshock was real. Watch it if you are a fan of the Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker--inevitably some sections from the book are missing but her version of events is kept to as faithfully as hers were to what really happened in 1917
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I've not read the book, but the film presents a rather jaundiced view of the time it portrays. Judging by other reviews here, it's true to the novel on which it is based, and since "butchers & bunglers" is the popular perception of WWI, that's no great surprise. A novel is hardly a history, after all. Having said that, if the film has its imperfections (such as straight-dug trenches that had to be filmed "creatively" when they realised what a mistake they'd made), they are not sufficient to make this worth less than 5*

Films that attempt to deal with sensitive subjects such as this aren't thick on the ground. Of itself, that's no reason to give the film 5*. Nevertheless, it's well-cast and all of the actors give strong performances. Whilst the script may be somewhat prejudiced, it's still strong & well-written. The direction also deserves praise; there is nothing that disturbs immersion or the sense of the time portrayed. It may be imperfect, but it's still an excellent film well worth your time.
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on 18 November 2005
I have considered other reviews and in general agree with them. This is a powerful and moving picture which makes effort to display the horror, and arguably the futility, of the first world war. As a film alone it is precisely executed, with some fine british actors providing thoughtful and provoking performances. The first few seconds of this film sum up WW1 for me, with haunting music as the camera travels over a black mud field deep with the dead and dying - and then the delicate end where Owen tells of the loss of 'half of Europe's seed'. Do not miss this, it is a film that you wont forget.
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What a great pity this film is so difficult to get hold of on Region 2. It deserves much more credit than it has received. It is not like other films covering the Great War, showing scenes of senseless slaughter in the mud of the trenches. No this film is much more subtle. It concentrates on the terrible injuries that can be inflicted on the mind. The horror these men were exposed to is unimaginable to us now. It is this unseen face of war that the film concentrates on, and it succeeds very well.

The film is based on the first book in Pat Barker's monumental Regeneration trilogy, this being the first of those books. It is set in Craiglockhart Hospital in Scotland where the sympathetic psychologist Dr WHR Rivers carries out pioneering work with soldiers suffering varying degrees of shell shock. Amongst those being treated were the now famous war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, played respectively by Stuart Bunce and James Wilby. Sassoon later wrote his wonderful autobiographical work "Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man", which covered his experiences of the trenches. In the film we see Jonathan Pryce in what I feel to have been his best role as Rivers. We see him build relationships with these soldiers through his methods of communication. They become true friends and he feels their loss keenly if any die when they return to the trenches. In Barkers series of books Rivers becomes one of the finest characters in modern literature and that is how the director Gillies MacKinnon portrays him.

In this film we do not see the action of such classic WW1 films as "All Quiet On the Western Front" and "Paths of Glory". This is a very subdued affair, but it is equally thought provoking. Anyone interested in counselling will find this film and the book it is based on fascinating. It is a film that deserves to be far better known. A frank and honest look at the side of war that was once convieniently ignored. Victims not as well known as Sassoon and Owen were also damaged as surely as any bullet to the brain. This film is a fine elegy to those thousands of forgotten men.
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on 7 January 2015
EXCELLENT FILM, NOT SUCH A GREAT DVD. Saw this film at the cinema on first release and was greatly moved by it. Purchased this DVD to revisit it. Clearly advertised as Dutch import but I have bought such DVDs before and just turned the Dutch subtitles off - no problem. However, in this case, there is no root menu, and therefore no opportunity to switch them off. I regularly watch foreign films with English subtitles, but watching an English film with Dutch subtitles is really irritating. My eye automatically shot to the subtitles all the time, only to repeatedly realise that this was a pointless distraction. Really annoying! Definitely recommend seeing this film, but not by buying this DVD.
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on 9 May 2004
an excellent portrayal of the sufferings of the men at Craiglockhart Hospital and also of the lives of Siegfred Sassoon, Wilfred Owen (two of the most recognised First World War poets) and Dr Rivers who treats war neurosis at the hospital. I felt that the movie didnt keep as close to the text as it should have, however we must consider that it covers the Regeneration Trilogy and not just the Regeneration novel. Very well directed, and suspense is used appropriately. My favourite part is the tunnel scene, were we never know whats at the end of the tunnel until the end of the movie. Top marks!
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on 10 February 2010
I had read Barkers first part of the trilogy when I saw this film the first time. i was astonished how good it was. i have watched it several times since and it throws up more each time. I think the writing and editing are first class but then Barker wrote this herself so it is not surprising. In the narrative we see several complex issues aired. attitudes to sexual orientation, class, pioneering clinicians, and those from the dark ages!! Yet the overwhelming horror of the war is never far away and is of course central to the plot. I wasn't overly enamoured of James Wilbey's performance, OK but not totally convincing. Jonathan Pryce on the other hand was simply awesome. I found his portrayal of Rivers totally convincing, especially his understated but never the less acknowledging of the Homosexual attraction between Sassoon and his own self, more subtle and less hero worshipping than Owen with Sassoon. The worst part was the opening shot of the battleground, it didn't look real and we didn't need it to set the scene. However, to balance that we have the end shot of Rivers reading the Owen poem (parable of the old man) and a tear slips down his face, it makes me cry every time I watch.
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on 30 October 2013
No doubt there are always lovers of books who are disappointed with film versions of their favourite tomes and most of the criticism of Regeneration is at this level. What readers fail to understand is that a good director/screenwriter will always look to interpret the text in their own fashion, particularly when truncated a trilogy, as in this instance. Therefore the potrayal of Rivers is valid only in the context of this film and has merit, particularly when considering the part was accepted by such a wonderful and sensitive actor. Rivers's emotional response to Sassoon's letter and Owen's poem in the final scene, is moving beyond words. It is a war film despite little front line action, as is the greatest war film (in my opinion) Kubrick's Paths of Glory, because very often the conflicts are with those on the same side.
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on 21 February 2012
I've watch this film many times over the last few years and it never loses its ability to disturb and move.

The plot is relatively straightforward, dealing with the rehabilitation of WW1 soldiers and their subsequent treatment by doctors and the establishment. It seems to capture perfectly the zeitgeist.

Johnny Lee Miller delivers a performance I've rarely seen from him since, but it is Johnathan Pryce who steals the show with a quite brilliantly performance that is in turn measured and emotional.

A must see film for those who want to understand the effects of war not only on young men, but on a nations soul.

PS If you want to buy it, it's about £6 on Play.
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