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45 of 50 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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22 of 27 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 Sep 2007 by Trevor Willsmer


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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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27 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The quiet and clean first world war, 13 Feb 2001
This review is from: The Trench [VHS] [1999] (VHS Tape)
I looked forward to seeing this film immensely but was teribly disappointed by its lack of atmoshere. As someone obsessed with the First World War I am normally moved to tears simply by the sight of a poppy but this film somehow managed to leave me cold. Set during the days prior to the first day of the battle of the Somme, it refers to the immense bombardment of thousands of shells upon enemy lines referred to as just 400 yards away, yet the falling of these shells sounds as gentle as distant thunder as the troops whisper to one another. The trenches and uniforms are clean and dry, food is so plentiful the soldiers can afford to be picky, the soldiers do not scratch, 'chat' for lice, write home, or sing... Okay, perhaps this film is striving to avoid the cliches of WW1 and of course no-one expects such a film to embrace documentary accuracy, but for me these men portrayed were unrecognisable as products of their era. The acting hardly helped, with indistinguishable working class lads and upper-class stereotypes, with only the sergeant eliciting any sympathy. Overall the film reminded me of a one act stage play written for a sixth form project. Feeble, minimally researched and no fitting epitaph for the men who endured the stinking, filthy, bloody hell that was the Somme.
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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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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intense, moving, must see, 26 July 2000
This review is from: The Trench [VHS] [1999] (VHS Tape)
A wonderful film, full of strong characters, very well acted. Many intense scenes, packed with different emotions, often moved me to tears. Sadly under-rated at the box-office last year. I agree ... that the Brits are often forgotten in war films, however would like to point out that The Trench deals with a different war from Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line.
This film is poignant and stays in the mind long after it has finished.
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26 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disasterously miscast dvd, 9 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
This travesty of a film about the 48 hours leading up to the first day of the battle of the Somme fails in all areas. The casting of Paul Nicholls, once again playing the sweet and innocent wide eyed boy, is an absolute disaster. We have every possible stereotype in the platoon, from the loud mouthed arrogant cockney to the thinker, a soldier who tries to analyse everything that is happening around them, they are, of course, led by a 'windy' drunk of an upper class twit in the guise of an officer.
...when one considers that the bombardment that preceeded the opening of the battle was the most devastating that had been seen to date in that war, we barely hear a shell burst during the whole of the film. The soldiers are strangely clean, as is the trench they inhabit, and can anybody tell me why they are in a forward advance trench when they are supposed to be in the third wave of the attack? THe great war advisor, should be shamed at this appalling rubbish. The crowning glory of the film is when they attack over beautiful green fields, unscarred by the heavy bombardment that had been going on for 7 days, absolute rubbish. The only good point in the film, is a fine performance by Daniel Craig as the Sergeant, but this sadly, cannot save an absolute turkey of a film, which looks more like a school play.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather bland, 10 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Trench [VHS] [1999] (VHS Tape)
It is a watchable film, but certainly no masterpiece. The other reviewers are correct in denouncing the lack of detail and set design, but it must be remembered that it was a low budget production. I saw an adaptation of 'A Journey's End' during GCSE English that was a far superior study of trench life than this film.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a terrible waste of money and time, 4 Nov 2013
By 
marc goris (hasselt, Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Wooden characters, poor acting, terrible soundtrack, no story, no depth a total waste of time and money. What is the meaning of this film? Does the director know?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Well-intentioned but inept, 30 May 2012
By 
Burrobaggy (Newcastle, home of footie) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
It's heart might be in the right place, but this tepid misfire looks like a bad TV schools production in every way. The 'exteriors' are obviously interior studio sets, and not very convincing ones. It's so badly lit that when the film finally goes outdoors to rip off the end of Gallipoli (which it does incredibly badly, like everything else) the change of film stock is so jarring it hurts.

The characters are childish stereotypes talking in unbelievable clichés and the film is frequently just plain wrong about details and attitudes of the average WW1 Tommy: politically correct, maybe, but historically it's a travesty (no Mr Boyd, officers DID go over the top: the highest percentage of casualties was officers, and even many generals died in battle).

But more than being badly directed, looking cheap, getting its facts wrong and going with every cliché Boyd can find, it's biggest sin is that it's just so bloody boring. Bad on every level.

WW1 was a terrible tragedy, and those who died in it deserve better than this terrible, terrible film.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Trench, 11 July 2010
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Sadly this film is just another clichéd stereotype about a war that is known more from inaccurate folk-myth and sentimental fabrication. The characters don't really act or talk like soldiers and the premiss is that no one wants to be there and it will all go horribly wrong. In truth the soldiers were enthusiastic volunteers - conscription didn't come until later and everyone thought that the Somme offensive would end the war. What the Somme offensive did do was take pressure off the French at Verdun and prevent the defeat of France and a German victory in 1916 - hardly the worst defeat in British military history and certainly not the way the Germans saw it.

This film does nothing for the memory of those who dies and insults the memory of those who lived.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the trench, 11 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Trench [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
the days leading up to the first day of the battle of the somme which follows a company of british soldiers preparing themselves for the big offensive.great british actors and a fine roll played by a pre bond daniel craig. 5 *****. a great film for anyone interested in military history.
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The Trench [DVD] [1999]
The Trench [DVD] [1999] by William Boyd (DVD - 2000)
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