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The Wipers Times (BBC) [DVD]
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In the bombed-out ruins of Ypres in 1916, Captain Fred Roberts and Lieutenant Jack Pearson discovered a printing press. They used it to produce The Wipers Times a humorous, satirical and subversive trench newspaper which proved hugely popular with soldiers - though not entirely with their superior officers. Braving constant bombardment and bitter fighting, The Wipers Times survived the Somme and made it through to the end of the war. Roberts and Pearson were highly decorated - yet were unrecognised in their lifetime. The Wipers Times is a story of the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity. The Wipers Times stars Ben Chaplin (London Boulevard, Me and Orson Welles, The New World), Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour, Green Wing), Michael Palin (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life Of Brian), Steve Oram (Sightseers, Kill List) and Emilia Fox (Silent Witness, Merlin) and is directed by Andy de Emmony (Love Bite, West Is West, The Bletchley Circle), produced by David Parfitt (My Week with Marilyn, Parades End, Shakespeare In Love) and written by Ian Hislop (A Bunch of Amateurs, My Dads The Prime Minister) and Nick Newman. shed a tear ***** - The Telegraph It was a wonderful tale waiting to be retold The Daily mail An extraordinary true story...Funny, sad, and parculiliarly British. And told with an affectionate twinkle. Lovely. The Guardian
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Top Customer Reviews
And yet, in a peculiarly British way, there was still humour to be found in this most humourless of settings, and there were some minds so irrepressible they managed to get a newspaper printed in the middle of the trench so as to spread that humour. It was a vent through which the Tommies let of steam about the commanders, the conditions and life in general. Having an outlet and being able to laugh must have been a great relief to some of the men on the front.
This fascinating film tells the story of the men behind that newspaper - The Wipers Times. It's a beautifully produced piece that follows Fred Roberts, an engineer in the trenches, who comes across a printing press when out scavenging for materials with his squad. He soon has an idea to let off a bit of steam and the Wipers Times (named after the Tommie's mispronunciation of Ypres) was born. We then follow Roberts through the rest of the course of the war, as he and his squad are moved from Ypres to the Somme and back. Along the way there is injury, death and destruction, but plenty of very black humour also. Roberts has to fight off a senior officer who believes the paper to be treasonous, but luckily has the support of an even more superior officer who sees the need for the Tommies to have a vent.
It's a well constructed and excellently produced film.Read more ›
The best thing the BBC has done this year I would say without doubt.
A fine cast led by Ben Chaplin who is outstanding ("....warm woolens for war-worn Walloons" ... "from now on we are all going to be as offensive as possible!")
This is heart-warming, uplifting, human and magnificent, without in any way trivialising the horror and tragedy of that war and all wars. It is important to note that, it being a true story, as Ian Hislop pointed out, virtually no new material had to be supplied. The Wipers Times contains so much good material that is still darkly funny. The film script is wonderful. A tribute to the human spirit.
TECHNICAL PROBLEM: a word of warning however - this film deserves its 5 stars and more, but, as other reviewers have commented, there is a technical problem with the DVD itself. Although new and pristine (my 1st 2 copies were sold by Amazon itself) the DVD is faulty - I have sent back 3 copies now, all with the same defect (tried on several modern DVD players on which other DVDs work well): it only plays the 1st set of scenes and the additional interviews, etc., and I am currently without a working DVD. I will perhaps try another company fulfilling the order, or wait until this technical problem has been resolved. I have contacted the BBC who deny there is a problem with the pressing, but there clearly, DEFINITELY IS a problem with all of the batch I have received. One of my DVD players has a facility that reports specific damaged areas in DVDs and I'm afraid it was firing off all the time as soon as the DVD was inserted, would not even play the 4th scene group at all, and delivered error messages throughout from the 2nd and 3rd scene groups.Read more ›
They go for the ludicrous - where ever possible - and often take a swipe at those in command, but the paper is a hit and soon they are getting noticed. This is set during the destruction and slaughter of World War I and that is included in the film, as well as mustard gas, food shortages and the filth of the trenches. The film recreates some of the sketches from the papers as black and white pieces using the same characters and this adds to the surreal nature of the paper and how it was a break from reality for those that read it.
Starring Ben Chaplin as Roberts and Julian Rhind-Tutt as Pearson who are both perfect castings for their respective roles, this was produced by the BBC to mark the anniversary of `The Great War', along with other memorable films and series. This I felt was one of the best and dealt with an aspect of war that is often missed out, at one time it is said that `war is nothing more than wallowing in a dirty ditch'; well this proved that humour could take men out of that ditch if even for a short time. Absolutely recommended and a credit to all involved in its production.
Clever, well acted, full of black humour and more general wit it touches the soul. It shows how brave, clever men can come through extreme prolonged duress if given outlets for their abilities and good companionship.
All the actors delight each doing his or her part superbly. Chaplin is a revelation.
A true understanding of what the phrase "stiff Upper Lip" meant and means lays behind this drama.
You will be missing out if you do not watch this lovely film.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Wipers Times was a satirical paper, which was produced and distributed by British troops at the Ypres Salient, during the First World War. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Moira
A fascinating true story with plenty of humour that lingers in your mind after it has finished.Published 1 month ago by skinch
What an amazing story... And all true! Ian Hislop has waited a long time for the opportunity to write a screenplay about the Wipers Times and the cal finally came on the eve of the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Tweedledum
Thoroughly enjoyed this when it came on TV, and bought this for a friend who had missed it. Great story, well acted, and both educated and entertained me.Published 5 months ago by L. E. Metcalfe
Funny and thoughtful. Monty pythonesque, take on the first world war, based on a true story.Published 6 months ago by Paula Jane White