Testament of Youth ~ Review

Most of you should remember my Testament of Youth pre-gushing post I did several days ago, don't you? I wrote that post when I kinda of discovered the movie 'Testament of Youth.' I described in great gusto my burning wish to watch the movie because it looked so stinking amazing. I swooned over the pictures I had endlessly pinned on Pinterest. My dear commenters shared my enthusiasm, and one of them, a certain Emily, said she had found the movie online and she sent me the link. 

I was SO HAPPY. The movie was online!?! (It still is, so grab your chance to watch it while it's there, folks.) The movie was THERE! I could watch it!?! I told my Dad that I wished VERY much to watch it as soon as possible, and he, being the good chump he is, said, 'Oh let's watch it on Saturday' and I said, 'OKAY YES LETS.' I checked the website every day to see if the movie was still there. I couldn't wait to see it.

And then I saw it!

Now, I warn you in advance, the movie online is very soft. So soft, we thought when we watched the beginning that it had no sound at all (I freaked out in quick disappointment.) Like, you-have-to-lean-close-to-catch-all-the-words soft and a-cough-of-a-fellow-watcher-will-make-you-loose-a-sentence soft. This was pretty difficult and made the movie a bit of a challenge to watch sometimes. I was straining my ears the whole way through.

But YET, I loved it.

It broke my heart. It was beautiful. It made me cry. It was just squeefully adorable and bitterly ending-wrenching-like.

Now, if you don't like sad movies, don't watch the complete movie. Watch the first half, which, in my opinion can be watched as a story on it's own, and stop at the scene where Vera and Roland fly a kite together on the cliffs near the sea, as a newly and happily engaged couple. The first half of the movie is ADORABLE and I just loved it. We watched the first half on Friday and the second half on Saturday, and I can tell you, the ways I went to bed on Friday and on Saturday were very different. On Friday I went to bed with happy feelings, thinking about the darlingness of the movie and pinning pins and gifs of the movie till it was super late. On Saturday I went to bed with knots in my neck and tears in my eyes (but more about that later.) 

So yeah, the first half. It's cosy and family-like and romantic and fuzzy-feelsy and you frankly can't do much wrong with having millions of scenes in there stored up in your head.

So, let me talk about the first part of the movie first, okay?

The story is about a young girl, perhaps nineteen, called Vera Brittain. She loves writing and desperately wants to go to Oxford university and reach a proper degree and do what she loves, but, due to being a girl, her parents have difficulty accepting the fact that their daughter is a complete bluestocking. They try to shove her onto the piano and finding-husband-thing instead, but she bluntly says that she won't ever marry. Not now. Not ever. That's pretty clear, isn't it?

Vera has a younger brother, Edmund (more about him later, folks, because he's my favouritest character ever) who often brings his two good Oxford pals with him to home. The three boys, Edmund, Victor and Roland are the kind of slap-on-the-shoulder, play-in-the-mud, gather-around-the-piano, loud, typical hungry kind of lads, and good chums, always laughing a teasing around. I loved their friendship, and the way they are all so gentlemanly to their pal's sister, Vera.

Vera often finds herself hanging around the boys, and she also finds herself attracted to Roland, who's a fellow writer and encourages her to pursue her dreams.

I really love that Roland wasn't this drop-dead handsome hero - he was very kind, funny, and he had a huge sense of duty and love. He was a bit shy, unlike Vera, and oh, their romance was just impossibly squeeful. I loved the scenes where they went out on trips and their big bustly chaperone kept on squishing in between and slapping away any physical contact.

I also love what Roland said to Vera. "You're not odd. Just Interesting." It's a new favourite quote of mine.

Roland was exactly what Vera needed, and vice-versa. Someone who was at her side about her being a writer and an Oxford student, but also someone who made her feel like a lady, someone who looked at her in beautiful ways and loved her. When he tried to put his hand on her shoulder during the cinema, with the chaperone seated between them, I decided I loved him. 

He just lovely. And a writer too! That definitely makes him more of a hero, doesn't it?

To be honest, Vera annoyed me a lot in the beginning. I loved and cried with her by the end, but I found her rather cumbersome with her snappy, direct and sigh-ing ways. Of course, she perhaps needed to speak up a bit to get what she wanted, but she could have been a bit more, um, calm, patient. 

But I did relate to her when she told a half-stammering, hint-giving Roland with a blunt sigh that she liked clarity, because I do too. And, as I said, by the end she becomes much more likeable, especially when you see what she goes through, and all that. Also she has some very adorable outfits, which helps me to like a person. Apparently. ;-P

I also absolutely loved Victor. My heart just goes out for him. He's so sweet and kind and young and innocent. He reminds me a bit of John Chivery, the way he is quietly in love with Vera and doesn't want to hurt her feelings ever. The way he looks at her with this sweet hopeful glint in his eyes. He's SO DEAR. I just want to hug him.

And when he went and pretended he had a girl, just so Vera wouldn't feel guilty. 'What's her name?' Vera asked, happy and relieved. 'Um, Molly. Yeah. She's keen.' Poor chap

Edward Brittain, the younger, musically talented pianish, jokester, kind-hearted chump, was my favourite character in the whole movie (followed closely by darling Victor.)

He exactly 'my' kind of guy, you know, adding the unhelpful fact that he's impossibly handsome, especially when in a khaki. I loved, loved, loved he and Vera's brother-sister relationship. I tell you, it's so beautiful. It's my favourite brother-sister relationship I've probably ever seen in a movie. I loved how they teased each other, relied on each other and clung to each other. My favourite Edward-part was when Vera gave him her letter from Oxford (which contained her results) and he read it with a solemn face and said in a solemn voice, 'You got it.' He's such a delightful tease! Such a boy. Such a dear chap. So kind and good and loyal. I loved him. :-)

So yeah, if you're not one for sad endings, stop right after Vera and Roland's engagement scene - which, by the by, is the most adorable thing ever because they sit there and talk about the white dress and the wedding guests and the cake with tears in their eyes, together alone looking from a cliff to the sea underneath. I know. Aww. - and you're good.

Because as you go on, you'll - heh - notice more and more that this movie has a likely chance of breaking your heart. Because, I warn you, it hasn't got a good ending. Not even rather good. You only get a bit of hope - hope from nature, hope from spring - but nothing that will fully satisfy you. Due to the unwantingness of spoilers, I won't tell you WHAT the sad ending is, but if you'll ask me in the comments I will be happy to oblige you with a tear-filled answer.

Because this movie is really SAD. That's a true war-story for you.

Vera's brother, her fiancé, Victor and all the other friends of her brothers all go off to fight. Vera feels she is wasting away her time and work in Oxford between all the rows and rows of books, and she goes and becomes a nurse. She sees how the war affects lives. She sees the endless lists of names of passed loved-ones in the newspaper. She becomes more broken and broken and sadder and sadder every day. 

It's like the world is peeling off at her sides and she can't do anything to keep her loved ones safe.

Vera ends up having to care for a bunch of wounded Germans. She sees how they cry and talk about their mothers and loved ones just like the English soldiers do. She sees them die too. She sees fields and fields of wounded men, English or German, it doesn't matter. They are all the same, she learns. They all have loved ones, and they all have feelings. They all have a right to live, all the same.

There was this one scene that got me the most. When she goes and looks between the dead bodies to find her brother and realises he is, in fact still alive. She manages to nurse him back to life and she rocks him in his arms as he cries about all the things he had seen. Vera sees how this war is affecting the lives of these young men - many just teenagers. How they shiver and have thoughts that haunt and depress them.

Man, are you crying yet? 

This movie made me weep. My heart was crying and my eyes were a definite wet. I was in need of tissues, especially afterwards, when I re-and-re-thought about the movie in my bed. I imagined what it would be like to say goodbye to my brother, or my father, or my cousin. Or my fiancé (not that I have one, I just imagined it and I happen to have a rather good one. Imagination. Not fiancé.) I mean just THINK. How horrible would it be if you know that every time the postman comes, or the telephone rings it might tell you that one of those lads you have so many memories of and love for might be dead?!

This movie made me really realise what a huge thing that war was. It's definitely a Testament of Youth. Such a sudden death, or change of life, at such a young age!

Wow. I just am stunned by how this movie is made and I highly recommend it.

I was also very pleased with how family-friendly it was, as other people have mentioned. There was perhaps a taaaad to many kisses to my taste (let's just say my brother started talking about random things whenever they kissed) and, of course, there are wounds and dead people (I turned my head twice, just because) but I think it's more of a 12+ movie than a 13+ movie, to be honest. It's extremely good.

The scenery was absolutely, utterly gorgeous, even on the small dusty laptop screen we watched it on. I just want to LIVE where the Brittain's live (in Britain, haha.) And the scenery around Roland's house (who, by the way, has a mother who was acted by Caroline Bingley which made me squeal) was AMAHZING too, with the seaside brushing and waving underneath the green cliffs. Also, the scenery of the lovely brown buildings at Oxford made me sigh.

And the interiors were impossibly gorgeous! I basically want Vera's bedroom - it's so pretty. And the library at Oxford!!! PLEASE. It's just impossible how gorgeous the library there was. *thud*

The costumes were BEAUTIFUL and 100% accurate. They reminded me a lot of the Downton Abbey costumes. In fact, I spotted that Vera wore two Edith's blouses in Series Two. Like, hello Vera, that's EDITH'S wardrobe, not yours! :-) Haha. Look, the one she's wearing in that picture above is the same as this one, and she also wore this one.

Also, all the other girls at Oxford were so deliciously late-Edwardian, with their blouses and low buns or long braids, and their shirt-waists and ties. They reminded me of pictures like this and this and this. There was a lot of costume-envy from my side, suffice to say. Especially when Vera's beautiful pink dress came on show. I'm talking about the pink dress in the first picture of this post. (Yes, do scroll up to have a better look. I'll wait.)

HIGHLY recommended. But don't say I didn't warn you about crying, okay?

*goes away with a knot in her neck*


  1. So I was reading your post thinking this movie sounded interesting and then I looked it up on IMDB and I saw that Colin Morgan played Victor! If you don't know, Colin Morgan plays in BBC's Merlin, which is amazing and you should totally watch!

  2. If my mom lets me, I am going to watch the first half...I am not one for sad endings...I walk around with this terrible feeling in my chest for days.
    But then I will come back and ask you to tell me the sad ending. Just so I know what happens.

    ~Lydia~ <3

  3. EEEEK I LOVE THIS REVIEW!! Now we cancry buckets of tears together. I was NOT expecting that ending ... I was like, "THEY MUST COME BACK!!!!!" It really does make you think, like you said, about how it would be if we lived back then. I can't imagine my brother going off to war. Ahhh.

    And Edward was my favorite, too!! I LOVE HIM. <3

  4. YOU WATCHED IT!!!! And I knew you'd have a gushing review about it. I mean, how could you NOT. ;-P

    Boy oh boy, this looks like a good movie. Wow. I'm really glad it was as good as you'd hoped!

    Haha, your brother started talking about random things when they kissed. ;-P Which brother was that, Daniel? I bet it was Daniel. ;-)

    AWESOME review!!!


  5. Lois, I've never heard of 'Merlin' nor had I heard of the actor Colin Morgan. But he was SO good in here, I love to see him in more! :-)

    Lydia, You should TOTALLY watch the first half. As I said, you can definitely watch it as a movie on it's own. :-)

    Emily, YES. Now we can cry togetherrrrr. :'( I know. I thought - OH AT LEAST ONE. COME ON COME ON. But nope. And Edward is your favourite too?!! I LOVE HIM TOO. I'd marry him. :)

    Emma, Oh COURSE. How could I NOT. :-) Haha. You know, I was kinda scared it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but it did. I absolutely loved it!
    Hahaha. No, it wasn't Daniel - he did't watch as he doesn't like to watch things with wounds. He's strangely scared of blood. (Don't tell him I told you.) It was Reuben. Only he, Dad and I watched it. Daniel, when there are kisses, he doesn't talk of RANDOM things, he just goes, 'UGH LOOK AT THAT. Tell me when it's finished!!!' or something in the like. :-P Very loudly.
    Thank you!

    ~ Naomi

  6. Wowwwww. This looks amazing--but, you know, I don't know if I should watch all the way to the end. Sad endings just GET to me, if ya know what I mean.

    But, could you maybe tell me what happens? I want to know because I'm writing a war story of my own and I'd like to be able to compare it to this one. My story has a lot of tragedy in it, too, but a hopeful ending . . . because I couldn't write a story where there's no hope at the end. I just COULDN'T. It would hurt me too much.

    Plus, the way I look at it, there's ALWAYS hope, isn't there, because no matter how awful things are, you can still take comfort in Christ's sufferings, which were much, much worse . . . Just out of curiousity, was there any kind of religious angle in Testament of Youth, or were the Brittains not religious people?

    These pictures are so beautiful. And that gif . . . THAT GIF. The one of Victor and the other guys at the piano. Oh, dear, dear, dear.

  7. Oh, this looks absolutely wonderful... I just love historical fiction-- Downton and P&P '95 and the like-- so thank you for introducing me to this loveliness! I'll have to watch this as soon as possible! Eep!

    We'll have to see about the second half though; I'm not one for sad endings. I'm with Jessica-- all my stories have to have, at the very least, a hopeful ending. I'm too much of an optimist (not that I mind-- I rather prefer it!). :-P But then again... It'll probably drive me crazy if I *don't* watch the whole thing, so it looks like I'll be retiring to bed in tears sometime soon. *smiles, sighs, and prepares herself for feelings*

    Thanks again for this; I'm beyond excited to see it!

  8. I've watched the first 12 minutes so far.... and it is awesome!!!


  9. Jessica, oh it GOT me too. But I'm still very glad I watched it because... I don't know why. I just am. :) I agree totally, there SHOULD BE HOPE. I'm all one for happy endings, ALL, but I can tolerate a sad ending when it has a happy shiney hopey feeling to it.
    Okay, I'll tell you what the sad ending is. Ready? Well, they die. All three boys. First Roland, Vera's Fiancé. Then Victor. And then, several months after Vera has saved her dear brother from death and nursed him back to life, she gets a telegram which reports the death of Edward. It's just SO sad and she has no hope for her future because her two favourite people are dead. It ends with her looking at the sea and thinking about the happy times, when she was giggling and walking in the hills with Roland, Victor and Edward. *SOBS*
    Of COURSE! There is always hope, because Christ is the resurrection and the life! There was a bit about another friend of Edward who wrote in his last letter that, 'He felt he would see him again, if not on this earth, in the earth everlasting' or something like that, but I really wish there had been more of a hopeful Christian message in the end. There wasn't very much.
    I KNOW. THE GIF. Oh dear, indeed.

    Emily, thank you for commenting!
    Yes, yes, you should definitely watch it! I feel ya. I hate endings without hope as well. They just break me. I NEVER write stories like that, NEVER! :) But there's something about watching this entire movie that will make you re-realise the depth of the WW1. But it IS sad, I can't deny it, as it's a true story, y'know.

    Kristen, Oh! Have fun watching the rest! I TOLD you it would be good. :-)

    ~ Naomi

  10. Oh gosh, yes! I loved the costumes. The pink one was so wonderful. I read somewhere that that one, and a couple others, were inspired from descriptions in the book.
    You have a good eye to pick out Edith's costumes!
    My favorite part was the friend/sibling portrayals. They were so real and genuine - which of course, made the ending even sadder :(

  11. Ahhhh!!! You have no idea how excited I am that you were finally able to watch this movie:) As soon as I read your first post on the movie I found it online and went head first into watching it...oh was it ever so amazing, beautiful, sad, heart wrenching, romantic, inspiring and the list goes on and on!!!
    I would have to agree that Edward is my favorite character!! How could he not be, he is just perfect, sweet, funny, loving, and yes handsome. His relationship with Vera makes me cry every time I think about it for the sweetness of it all.
    Oh, and Victor....poor Victor...so much like John Chivery and of course as a Merlin fan I loved him in the movie.
    The costumes....oh the costumes were swoon and gush worthy at every moment and oh how I want them all.
    I laughed and I cried my eyes out but this movie is definitely a favorite now and so incredible.

  12. Thanks for telling me--I did want to know, although it's horridly sad :( You know, it's probably good to watch that movie anyway, even if it's really hopeless and depressing, because I think a lot of people did FEEL that way after WWI. So it's a good historical portrait.

    But yeah. I really do believe, like you said, that there IS hope for us and everybody else in the world, no matter how awful things get. "I shall not leave you orphans . . . Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of time." That's what I'm going to try to write about in my own story. Of course, I don't know if I shall do a good job :)

  13. This sounds SO good and just my kind of movie.....I'm going to watch it with my mom soon. :) Thank you SO much for the link! I hope they don't take it down till can watch it! :"(

  14. The movie was so so great, but oh so sad. Made me cry :'(
    But it was so good I have to watch it again!

  15. By the way! Does it have any war scenes in the first half? Just want to know, so I can be prepared. ;P

    ~Lydia~ <3

  16. This was a lovely review, Naomi. I very much enjoyed reading it. The pictures are all so beautiful. And your despcritptions of the story and the characters really made me to want to see the movie for myself. It's too bad it has a sad ending (I was hoping it would be otherwise) but I still think I'd like to see it sometime.

    I like Edward Brittain already! He sounds like a wonderful character! And Victor. Oh dear, not another John Chivery! That's just so sad! But he sounds lovely. Pretending he has a girl so Vera won't feel bad? Awwww!

    Argghh!! I so wish it could have had a happy ending! I know it's realistic and all that, but not everybody dies in a war. Some come home. The least they could have done was let at least one of the young men survive! Why did all three of them have to die? (I read your comment to Jessica, by the way. I'm one of those people who likes spoilers, because I'm too impatient to wait until I see the movie.) The fact that she has no hope at the end is even more sad. There needs to be hope! If a story can't end happily at least it can end with some hope for the future, because life does go on and healing can certainly come if we rely on God and allow Him to work in us.

    Oh, dear...why must there be sad endings? :(

    I'd better get off this subject before I depress myself! :) Ha ha! Thanks for another delightful post!

    ~Miss March

  17. Great review! I watched and very much enjoyed this movie myself two weeks ago. I have been planning to write a review, but haven't had time yet...

  18. Oh my! I have to watch this. This looks like the type of movie that I will love and weep over.
    I believe that this movie is based off of a book written by the real Vera. I think I'll have to read that also, if I'm going to watch the movie.
    Look at those costumes, those hats! The costumes are definitely like Downton Abbey.
    I liked how you said that you brother talked during the kissing parts. I do that a lot also during romantic scenes. I turn to my mom and start having a monologue conversation. "Hi. How are you? Oh! I'm fine thank you. Have you heard... or did you know..." Yep. That pretty much sums up the conversation during overly romantic scenes.
    This was a really lovely review! You also did a very nice job with the pictures. :)


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