Vera’s Plea

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Vera

By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Toward the end of Testament of Youth, the central character delivers a speech that, taken out of context, would usually be considered flatfooted “speechifying” and would land with a thud.

But this earnest British period drama makes such an eloquent case leading up to that moment that the words overwhelm us with their wisdom and power.

Victor’s Moments

Victor’s Moments …     Victor alone

The unassuming Victor is an integral part of the trio of boyhood friends. His gentle demeanor is a comforting presence, and we see that in the film. We see him enter from the side of the frame to sit quietly. He could be missed, so unobtrusive is he, but he is there, almost in the shadows, providing a strength on which they can rely. His friends called him Counsellor, Father Confessor, the one with whom you could share your secrets and concerns.

Victor exhibits signs of a youthful crush on Vera, smiling shyly from the sidelines. And though there are glimpses of him in several earlier scenes, the scene in the hospital is the most screen time we have of the two together.

At the hospital we see the results of Colin’s study at the Blind Institute. His observations taken from that visit inform his character decisions as the newly blinded Victor.

Victor’s unfocused stare … the unbandaged eye wanders, unable to fix on its objective. The rapid blinking, the angle of his head. His reaching out to touch Vera, first finding her shoulder to guide his hand, trembling fingers finding her face, unsure of her reaction, beautiful moments, though sad … and heartbreaking.   His determination to make the best of what has happened gives us brief hope.

In the end, his gallant refusal to allow Vera to spend her life tending him tells us a great deal about Victor’s strength of character, as well as his understanding of Vera’s nature … her basic need to follow her own dreams. It is a loving thing he does, perceptive and kind.

“We sat and talked …”

Though I read the book several months ago, it is wonderful to see excerpts like this one set forth so beautifully.  If there is any tear left in my body, this scene will open the flood-gates and empty them all.

tears

Thank you “Victor Richardson”.

Vera Brittain, May 1917:
[…] His head was still copiously bandaged, and one brown eye, impotently open, stared glassily into fathomless blackness. If I had not been looking for him I should not have known him; his face seemed to have emptied and diminished until what was visible of it was almost devoid of expression. ‘Hallo, Tah!’ I said, as casually as I could, self-consciously anxious to keep the shock of his appearance out of my voice.
He did not answer, but stiffened all over like a dog suddenly hearing its master’s call in the distance; the drooping lethargy disappeared, and his mouth curved into the old listening look of half-cynical intelligence. ‘Do you know who it is, Tah?’ I asked him, putting my hand on his. ‘Tah!’ he repeated, hesitating, expectant – and then all at once, with a ring of unmistakable joy in his voice, ‘Why – it’s Vera!’
All that afternoon we sat and talked. The world had closed in around him; he definitely discouraged the description of loveliness that he could no longer see, of activities that he could never again share, and at first seemed interested only in discussing the visits of his friends and the hospital detail of every day. But of his complete rationality there could be no question, and with time and the miraculous adaptability of the blind, the wider outlook would certainly return. […]
victorrichardson

These Young Happy Boys

Colin in his own words

I play Victor Richardson, who is best friend to Edward Brittain, who is Vera’s brother, who is then inadvertently friends with Vera. Victor would very much like things to be more than friends with Vera. He’s very much drawn to her.
Vera is the through line of the story. As people fall away around her, she is still that train that’s just going straight ahead every time, and that’s an absolute, you know, testament to her.

Mrs. Leighton, who is Roland’s mother, used to call the guys the Three Musketeers, so there’s a feeling of this little band of brothers together, and that’s very much where we find Victor at the beginning. He’s part of that team on the cusp of life.

At that time, there was a pressure, and there was a conditioning, and there was a breeding amongst those boys to be a part of that scene, in a way, to be a part of that heroics, certainly in the Uppingham School, the boys’ public school. They were conditioned for heroics and to serve your country and to be part of that. I don’t feel that Victor was ever fully part of that. I feel that he felt that he should be.

And I think it’s hard for people of our generation to understand what it is to put so much trust into something like serving your country, something which you, from a young age, were conditioned to believe was so comforting, and something that you could absolutely believe in, could betray you so badly.

There’s a real sense of duty, I think, there’s a real sense of honour and pride, I think, whenever you’re representing someone’s life, because there’s no way they could have ever thought something like this was going to happen, so there’s a sense that you then have to do them proud.

James is a very passionate director, he’s a very sensitive director. I think he’s got a real love for this story and this project, and a drive for it. And you can see that immediately.

It’s an emotional roller-coaster to go through and it’s a very tough schedule for Alicia. She is in every single scene, I think there’s maybe two scenes which she’s not in. They’re maybe like two seconds long (laughs). But she’s in every day, and she’s absolutely taken it on board, the way Vera probably would.

I think, to have seen these young happy boys marching off to war, come back incomplete is really harrowing. And it’s really heartbreaking as well. It just didn’t occur to them that that would happen. And the film pulls no punches in that way.

I think it’s a film that touches on every generation, I think any gender, and I think any age. For me, it’s been an eye-opener, not knowing much about that period, again, it can feel a bit lost to us. I think it’s important to keep that alive, that these are people that we can all be inspired by. I don’t think we realise how easy we have it.

It’s Here !! (almost)

at the piano

Movie Sunday, May 11, 2015 … local theater

First preview, second preview, third preview …. POP !!!  There, before my eyes, was the long anticipated preview of Testament of Youth !!!  I grabbed my daughter’s arm and almost jumped from my seat!  Mostly Vera and Roland, of course … but one, lovely, very quick glimpse of that face which by itself can light up a room.

Needless to say, I am so excited !!! Colin, at last, on the big screen in the US.  Colin, at last treating American audiences to his special brand of magic.  And at last, for the friends who will see this film, no more trying to explain his immense talent.

Is June really that far away !!!          happy

A Mother’s Day Surprise !

Here’s wishing you ladies all had a wonderful day, celebrating with the ones who love you!

tulips

My day was spent with my first-born.  We spent a couple of relaxing hours chatting and visiting at a small, quaint coffee house before we took ourselves off to see a movie.  Our choice was ‘Woman in Gold’ … the kind of thing BBC does so well. We were looking forward to a quiet, well acted, involving story about one woman’s attempts to recover the art stolen from her family during the nazi occupation of Austria.  (Sorry, can’t bring myself to capitalize the ‘n’ word!)

Before the film could begin, I gripped my arm rest and was assaulted with 15 minutes of very loud previews … films filled with explosions, crashing, banging, war and mayhem.  I thought it would never end!  But, mercifully, the theatre allowed their audience to enjoy some quieter previews, and I settled in to see if there was hope for my viewing future.   First preview, second preview, third preview …. POP !!!  There, before my eyes, was the long anticipated preview of Testament of Youth !!!  I grabbed my daughter’s arm and almost jumped from my seat!  Mostly Vera and Roland, of course … but one, lovely, very quick glimpse of that face which by itself can light up a room.

Needless to say, I am so excited !!! Colin, at last, on the big screen in the US.  Colin, at last treating American audiences to his special brand of magic.  And at last, for the friends who will see this film, no more trying to explain his immense talent.

Is June really that far away !!!          happy

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