Set in the 48 hours leading up to the catastrophic attack on the German lines on 1st July 1916 that signalled the start of the Battle of the Somme, this is the poignant, intense story of young men at war, as seen through the eyes of seventeen year old Billy Macfarlane. As Billy and his squad are thrown into war, they experience trauma, friendship, animosity, nostalgic recollection and the prospect of their agonisingly short lives coming to an imminent and sudden end.
The action of the film is deliberately oppressive, set entirely in the few dozen yards of front line and communication trenches that Billy and his fellow soldiers occupy.
As the boys wait for the attack, alternately excited and terrified, a series of events begins to undermine and fracture the solidarity of the group, and for the first time our young soldiers have to confront the reality of the enemy as the suspense and tension reaches critical mass.
When Billy's platoon is ordered to go with the first wave of attackers, the awful truth of what they are about to undergo begins to impact. The whistles blow, the boys clamber over the top. We see the first wave surge into the maelstrom of smoke and explosions through the meadows of the Somme valley, advancing gamely on to meet their individual and tragic destinies.
Billy Macfarlane's war ends moments later.
- Type of film
- 35mm Fuji
- William Boyd
- Steve Clarke-Hall
- Director of Photography
- Tony Pierce-Roberts BSc
- Principal Cast
- Paul Nicholls, Daniel Craig, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Danny Dyer, James D'Arcy, Tam Williams, Anthony Strachan
- Screen Writer
- William Boyd