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All the King's men,
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This review is from: All the King's Men [DVD] (DVD)
The time is after the outbreak of the first world war and the men working on the royal estate at Sandringham in Norfolk are being put through their paces by their fatherly estate manager (brilliantly played by David Jason) before they do their bit for king and country. For these young men their entire world is the cosy sheltered environment of Sandringham, where deference to their betters is the order of the day and where everyone knows their place. They have the perception of war that so many people untouched by real war have of glorious deeds, patriotic acts and self sacrifice but when they get to Gallipoli their ideas are cruely shattered by the reality of death, disease and disorganisation. The only thing that sustains them in this carnage and confusion is the comradeship and loyalty built up at Sandringham.
They sustain casualties, one of them disappears after going out on a patrol and later they take part in an attack on a Turkish position, charge towards the enemy through a barrage of shellfire and they disappear into a mist bank that rolls across their line of advance and none of them returns. Their disappearance gives rise to a myth that they have somehow been embraced in the mist and carried up to heaven. The reality is rather different, they have been wiped out by the Turks who took no prisoners. The man who disappeared whilst on patrol is wounded and taken to a German hospital and returns to Sandringham after the war with severe facial disfigurement. An investigation later discovers the grisly truth but should that be revealed or should the far more pleasant and comfortable myth be perpetuated?
All the Kings Men portrays in a gripping and moving way the naivety and innocence of men who join up to fight for their country without having any idea of war is like, the deep sense of comradeship that sustains them and that the horror of war is so unacceptable that myths have to be invented to obscure the painful reality. This has been seen many times since the first world war. The worst aspect of this is the betrayal of eager and trusting young men by the politicians and the military, the prostitution of patriotism and the waste of human life that always accompanies war.