"Good grief, I finally found a US edition of this film so I can buy it. Can't the original title be put in brackets or something beside the 'nouveau' so you at least find it?! The philistine who came up with the new title didn't even bother to look at a Sassoon or Owens poem, obviously. My suggested title above (which admittedly may be no better as a film title) is from a Sassoon poem and I picked it more or less at random on the first page I opened in my anthology.The film did manage to get across the awful (British) Imperial jingoism without ramming it down our throats more or less exclusively. The experiences that caused such acute suffering as displayed by the inmates of Craiglockhard were presented well, as was the personal humiliation of succumbing to mental illness or "shell-shock". Less successful however, was the treatment of the worst thing a soldier can do: failing to act with stoicism and diffidence. (Sassoon for example, developed an intense hatred for civilians as a result of this fairytale "let's all pretend we're having a lovely time in Flanders because that's what they want to hear at home, and we can't go upsetting the ladies, now can we, lads?", that at least outlasted the war.)This was a well-scripted, well-acted,thoughtful and thought-provoking film. This is not a standard "tear-jerker" but if it does not make you shed a tear of sorrow and rage then you must have been multi-tasking.This film actually rekindled a schoolgirl interest in the history of the First World War and in the extraordinary change in and range of poetry resulting from the experience of those in the foul trenches of France and Flanders."
A great film adaptation
S. Calhoun | Chicago, IL United States | 11/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"BEHIND THE LINES is a film adaptation of the first volume of Pat Barker's excellent Regeneration trilogy. I was anxious to watch this DVD since I finished reading this book last week, but I had some reservations since film adaptations are often less than par. However, shortly after pressing the play button I was reassured that this DVD did the book a great justice. The directors did a phenomenal job in re-creating the atmosphere of the suffering of the soldiers and the horrific psychological consequences of trench fighting. BEHIND THE LINES follows a group of officers suffering from shell shock who are treated at Craiglockhart War Hospital outside Edinburgh. There is no doubt that what these soldiers experience can disturb even the most strong-minded individual today. The principle psychiatrist is Dr. Rivers, who suffered from his own personal demons and war symptoms. He created strong friendships with many of his patients and cared dearly for their well being. Rivers is a complex, nuanced character. While he portrays an exterior of believing in the War, he holds an internal debate of the War's philosophical warrants. As stated by a previous reviewer, the original title of this film is Regeneration *not* Behind the Lines. I have no idea why the title was changed when it was released in the United States because the current title doesn't make any sense. Another complaint is that there is a lack of any special features on this DVD. It would have been marvelous to watch a director commentary or behind the scenes footage. It's unfortunate that this is a bare bones DVD. Regardless of these two negative aspects, BEHIND THE LINES is a wonderful and deeply moving film of British soldiers suffering from shell shock during the Great War. Read Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy and watch this film. Both are highly recommended."
"He wasn't a man. He was a fighting unit...being repaired."
Dave | Tennessee United States | 04/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm quite surprised that this incredible war film has remained so obscure since it's U.S. release, although like the previous reviewers I can see how the deceptive title of "Behind the Lines" would mislead people into thinking of daring missions and epic battle sequences rather than an asylum. Even with very few combat scenes, "Behind the Lines" is a devastating portrait of World War I and one of the best depictions of the war I've ever seen.
Jonathan Pryce stars as Dr. William Rivers, an army psychiatrist who must treat and heal shell-shocked soldiers at an asylum in Scotland so he can return them to the slaughter at the front. Although other doctors use brutal electrical shock treatment to "cure" shell-shock victims, Rivers uses patience, kindness, and understanding to treat his patients. But when he meets Siegfried (James Wilby), a decorated war hero who's sent to the asylum for publishing an anti-war pamphlet, he's faced with questioning his own beliefs about the war. As he becomes more and more attached to his troubled patients, Dr. Rivers eventually finds himself suffering from symptoms of shell-shock, and he reaches the point where he's about to break down physically and emotionally.
This gripping film about World War I's devastating impact on the brave men at the front is one that you'll never forget. The music, superb performances, and incredible cinematography combine to make this one of the greatest war films of all time. Highly recommended!"
Looking into the minds of the Great War poets.
Justin Nystrom | New Orleans | 10/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I understand the lament of some reviewers as to this film's name change from _Regeneration_ to _Behind the Lines_. The "lines" to which the title refers are not the battle lines, but the lines of poetry (and prose) of several of the film's key historical figures. (Mostly Owen and Sassoon, but Robert Graves also makes an appearance.) It is actually a very appropriate title if we understand it as investigating the cataclysm through which these authors forged their art.
This is an excellent film for anyone who wants to understand the profound psychological change the Great War imposed upon the men of this generation. It is also a good jumping-off point for a discussion of the War Poets in any history or lit class."
Behind the Lines
a history teacher | Danville, KY | 03/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Very interesting work. The person that wrote the description on the back of the box didn't know his WWI literary history or never actually watched the movie. The movie deals with the poets Sassoon and Owens and their feelings on war. There are very few front line combat scenes. The emphasis instead is upon the horrors in the minds of the men. Read something about Sassoon and Owens. If it interests you, get this movie."