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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE TRENCH IS HEART-WRENCHING STUFF
Saw THE TRENCH recently, the first film by famed novelist William Boyd (Armadillo, A Blue Afternoon) and was very moved by it. An odd piece in its structure (very little happens until the last 10mn) as well as form (almost entirely studio-shot) the film's evocation of the absurdity of war was ultimately very successful.
Disposing of any plot, Boyd slowly traces the...
Published on 16 Dec. 2002

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible waste
Set in the run up to the disastrous first day of the 1916 Battle of the Somme, The Trench isn't entirely worthless, but it's not a movie, more a filmed play (despite being written as a movie), and a very poor one at that with that 1970s BBC For Schools television look. The decision to shoot on a soundstage is particularly disastrous, since it never looks like anything but...
Published on 8 Sept. 2007 by Trevor Willsmer


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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE TRENCH IS HEART-WRENCHING STUFF, 16 Dec. 2002
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Saw THE TRENCH recently, the first film by famed novelist William Boyd (Armadillo, A Blue Afternoon) and was very moved by it. An odd piece in its structure (very little happens until the last 10mn) as well as form (almost entirely studio-shot) the film's evocation of the absurdity of war was ultimately very successful.
Disposing of any plot, Boyd slowly traces the 48hrs leading up to the Battle of the Somme, with a group of (very) young soldiers. They are bored, restless and scared and as an audience we are asked to go through the same journey. And when the inevitable does happen we are left in tears because we got to know and like those characters. This film is Spielberg's SAVING PRIVATE RYAN but the other way round (in the Hollywood big budget blockbuster you start off with the battle and the death and the carnage and then you are bored for the following 2hrs!). For emotional payback THE TRENCH is a much more satisfying experience.
Paul Nicholls' performance is probably too weak to carry the film but Daniel Craig's awesome display of charisma is in itself worth watching the film for.
Also I would like to point out to so-called WWI experts who have written reviews for this film that the days depicted in this film take place in June when trenches were not muddy and wet, not yet at least. I do agree though that explosions would have rendered the field itself more lunar than grassy and luxurious.
A definite recommendation. You will not regret it.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Movie, 4 Oct. 2007
By 
ray dorrity "ray dorrity" (New Forest, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Having read all the other reviews, I think that most of them are rather unkind to this movie.
Prior to the battle, the Somme area was a quiet backwater of the Great War with activity consisting of both sides daily lobbing a few shells into "No Man's Land" just to maintain the pretence that there was a war on. Neither side wanted to do anything but have a quiet life.
As for the soldiers being too clean, well in a non-combat area, baths and showers were available as was clean clothing.
The Somme area is chalk, so there would have been none of the mud usually associated with trench warfare.
I'm old enough to have had conversations with Great War veterans, like my grandfathers and other relatives and their perception of the war was of
99% total boredom and 1% sheer terror.
I enjoyed the movie, despite being a Great War buff. The weapons were correct, the uniforms correct. As for the movie, well scripted and well acted.
Worth the money. Buy and enjoy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible waste, 8 Sept. 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Set in the run up to the disastrous first day of the 1916 Battle of the Somme, The Trench isn't entirely worthless, but it's not a movie, more a filmed play (despite being written as a movie), and a very poor one at that with that 1970s BBC For Schools television look. The decision to shoot on a soundstage is particularly disastrous, since it never looks like anything but a soundstage, and this despite having a good cinematographer (Tony Pierce-Roberts). The decision to never leave the trench until the final scene doesn't really work, partially because we have no indication of the world that awaits them, but largely because Boyd's finale is just too televisual to have any compensating shock value. The abrupt jump to exterior for the last couple of minutes (and very tame they are too) is very noticeable, the film stocks and looks just not matching at all. Borrowing the final image of Gallipoli as well doesn't help.

Characters constantly explain what they're doing to each other despite having been in the trench for several weeks or months; there's no immediacy, no sense of danger, no sense of having to live in a fetid, claustrophobic open grave. Indeed, it's one of the most comfortable British trenches I've seen, with an absolutely level floor for the most part and an unnatural tidiness. The soft barrage - the quietest I've ever heard for shells landing 700 yards away - doesn't help. Boyd really doesn't have any idea of the possibilities that cinema has to offer, either camera or sound. It's real problem, though, is that ultimately it's a polite, clean and determinedly inoffensive film about a dirty, ugly war.

Pluses are some good performances, most notably Daniel Craig and Paul Nicholls, the latter improving after a bland start to establish a credible screen presence. There are a couple of good scenes, too, but it doesn't really have the ring of truth or authenticity - the mood seems more influenced by hindsight than the actual mood in the run-up to the first day. Not only do you never feel you're there alongside them, but there's no sense of people caught up in, and disposed by the mad rush of a cruel history beyond their control. There's no dread, no fear, just observation. The shortfall between the film Boyd thought he was making and the one he did is made frighteningly apparent by his interviews in the EPK included on the disc.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Before they were famous, 19 Dec. 2014
By 
Albatross "Never argue with idiots" (Suburbia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Trench (DVD)
‘The Trench’ is basically a World War 1 drama with a host of ‘soon-to-be-famous’ faces, including Daniel Craig, Cillian Murphy and Danny Dyer (the latter of which produces arguably one of the best performances of his career). It does its best to portray life on of the most depressing and violent conflicts in the history of man. But does it do it well?

It’s hit and miss. First of all, with a cast list as above, you can’t really fault the acting. Everyone does their best with what’s provided. However, where it falls down is the story. There isn’t really one. But then that’s hardly the film’s fault, more a by-product of the subject matter. You can’t really tell the story of the entire First World War in an hour and a half, so the film concentrates on just the build up to the first few days of the battle of the Somme.

The characters just wander around, waiting for the final call from the military’s top brass to send them over the top in an attempt to gain ground from the Germans. You get to know some of the soldiers and naturally care for their fates, it’s just the whole film is really just about showing the conditions they had to live in, rather than telling a story which wasn’t really there to begin with.

I grew up on Blackadder (Goes Forth) and felt, despite its ‘comedy’ tag, it was somehow more touching than The Trench managed. Plus both the TV show ‘Blackadder’ and the film The Trench seemed to have similar budgets when it came to sets. I know it’s a minor gripe, but everything in The Trench was ‘filmed from above’ so to speak. That way you never saw the sky (with the exception of about two shots). I know this might have been designed to heighten the ‘claustrophobic’ nature the soldiers had to live in, but it just felt cheap to me – like everything was simply filmed on a ‘trench set.’ Plus the soldiers’ uniforms looked way too clean to be rolling around in mud for months on end!

If you’re looking for a film that shows the conditions of what the soldiers had to live in then this is it. If you want something with drama and poignancy then try Blackadder Goes Forth (plus it has humour, too). ‘The Trench’ isn’t a bad film. It’s just that it’s hard to make a story out of just showing soldiers in the trenches.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and emotionally powerful, 3 Nov. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Though some of the finer points in this film are innaccurate and the charachters are somewhat stereotyped, overall it portrays brilliantly the absurd and hopeless nature of the war and the terror and hopelessness felt by the soldiers. The out of date tactics and strategies used to fight the war are shown in their true light and you are left with a real sense of how awful and tragic a war it was.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear..., 24 Dec. 2014
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Words cannot describe the utter disappointment I felt after watching this film. Apparently, this film is 'gripping' and 'intense', in no way, shape or form does this justify those tag lines or any money being spent on it. The two hours of my life I wasted ten years ago when watching this film still resonate deeply with me. Do. Not. Buy. Or watch, for that matter. The only reason I'd buy this film is to destroy the disc. 1 star is too much.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See it!, 3 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Trench [VHS] [1999] (VHS Tape)
It's good that this type of film is still being made about a conflict that will very soon have no eye-witnesses remaining. It's a fantastic character study of innocence and bravery in the trench, as well as the ineptitude and incompetence of the High Command during the Battle of The Somme in 1916.
I watched this film yesterday, thought about it all evening, dreamed about it all night and still can't shake it off.
Don't expect an all-action film, which in itself would be disrespectful of the actual battle and men who fought in it. Prepare yourself for an engrossing and well acted film, made all the more enveloping because as the viewer you know exactly what the outcome will be...
See it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Under-rated, 28 Jun. 2011
By 
K. Hamilton "kenhamilton3" (The Fens) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
While this film is no masterpiece, it is fairly accurate as a portrayal of pre-July Somme. It is a clean and tidy trench, because it is dug into free draining chalk. The soldiers are more bothered about dirty photographs than going over the top - they don't know how bad it will be. They don't sit about chatting for lice and so on, because they are in a front line trench. It captures the atmosphere beautifully.

The characters could be less stereotyped and better developed, that's true, but the lack of plot is a distinct bonus to the film. Too many war films are all action and miss the essential point that the vast majority of warfare is, in fact, pretty boring (although granted the bits in between more than make up for that).

Worth a watch, and certainly not worth condemning out of hand.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trench lacking in depth, 23 Nov. 2009
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
For Daniel Craig fans eager for an early pre-Bond outing, or as an introduction to First World War history, this isn't bad, but the mixture of Irish, Scottish and northern accents might make it a little hard for non-Brits to follow.
Be warned though, the language is strong and there are the occasional very bloody scenes. But then, it would.
On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 60,000 British troops were killed. It remains the bloodiest single day of slaughter in the history of the British Army.
The Trench is set against that backdrop, though at times it seems a million miles away.
A pre-requisite of a war film, one would have thought, is action, but vast chunks of this one are spent dealing with tedium.
In that respect it is quite accurate. From the British side there was a long build up to "the Big Push" including a days-long artillery bombardment of the German lines.
The heroes of our story are "holding the line", manning the front-line trenches less than 400 yards away from the Germans, while the reserve area is filled with more and more men.
The British "tactics" such as they were, involved a week long barrage (to blow away all the barbed wire and scare the living daylights out any Germans lucky enough to survive). Everything else hung off that one criteria.
Because most Germans were presumed dead, the British soldiers would advance, at a walk, with bayonets fixed. At 7.30am, in broad daylight. The Generals who dreamed up such follies predicted their brave boys would suffer only 10% casualties.
What went wrong, of course, was that the wire was not blown away and most of the Germans had survived because they built trench dug-outs deep enough to avoid the shelling. Once that almighty barrage finally came to an end they rushed back up to their positions, manned their machine guns and rained down a murderous hail of bullets.
In the build-up to July 1, many soldiers and even some junior officers, began to have doubts about whether this could work. That aspect does comes across, but while there is good acting from much of the cast (notably Paul Nicholls, Daniel Craig, Julian Rhind-Tutt and James D'Arcy), the writing makes them one dimensional.
Nicholls (Pte Billy MacFarlane) is the 17-year-old naive lad who lied about his age to join-up with his brother. D'Arcy (Pte Colin Daventry) is the educated, intelligent trooper who can see it all going wrong long before the others and goes "over the top" sobbing with fear. Rhind-Tutt (Lt Ellis Harte) is the inexperienced young officer who would have been on the family cotton farm in South Africa had it not been for the war. He can barely cope and gets through the day by swigging whiskey from his hip flask.
Craig (Sgt Telford Winter) arguably turns in the best performance, but even his character, the professional soldier shouting at the men to keep them in line, is barely developed.
The trench warfare of the First World War is synonymous with mud and No-man's Land was a bomb-cratered hell-hole. Here the trenches are virtually bone-dry and in the final, climatic battle scene, the lads advance over a brilliantly green unscarred field. Blackadder Goes Fourth, despite being a comedy, was much more realistic in its portrayal.
The film blurb on describes it as "tense and original" but in truth it is not especially either of those. A play called The Accrington Pals, despite being mostly about the women left behind at home during the First World War, covers the tensions leading up to the first day of the Somme much better and the film All Quiet on the Western Front and the musical Oh What a Lovelly War! both dealt more effectively with its insanity.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Undecided, 5 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
I can not quite make my mind up about this movie ... it was a good watch, but it lacked "something" ... I think it may have been something to do with the cast ... but a good watch
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The Trench [DVD] [1999]
The Trench [DVD] [1999] by William Boyd (DVD - 2000)
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