King & Country

Watch King & Country

"Go ahead... kill him - you're the only friend he has!"
  • NR
  • 1964
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 7.5  (2,465)

"King & Country" is a 1964 British war drama, directed by Joseph Losey, starring Dirk Bogarde, Tom Courtenay, and Leo McKern. The story takes place in World War I in France, during the latter years of the conflict, when the fighting weariness is taking a heavy toll on British soldiers. The film begins at an army camp where an AWOL Private Arthur Hamp (Tom Courtenay) is put on trial for desertion. Officer Captain Hargreaves (Dirk Bogarde), who's appointed to defend him, is surprised to find that the private willingly went through 200 miles of treacherous terrain just to get back to his regiment. However, he has still deserted his post and as the trial reveals the depth of the soldier's growing despair, it becomes clear that there are no easy answers to be reached. The trial's outcome and the aftermath will make the viewer question what they regard as justice and compassion.

As Hamp stands trial, it becomes evident how disillusioned and alienated the soldiers are from their commanding officers. The soldiers fight for their country but the country fails the soldiers as their needs are often left unmet. Officers are shown to be insensitive and uncaring, while soldiers are weary and long for the simple pleasures of life, like warm food and good company.

The movie succeeds in creating a powerful anti-war statement despite the lack of graphic violence. The desolation of the battlefield is depicted through simple yet haunting imagery of muddy trenches, dark and cloudy skies and a landscape devoid of any beautiful wide-shots that try to capture the grandeur of combat.

The depiction of the futility of war is not a new concept, but the film's strength lies in the way it handles complex psychological themes without straying into melodrama. The deeply felt sorrow and suffering of the soldiers become the focus, rather than battlefield action. This, in turn, heightens the emotional impact of the story, making it a poignant commentary on the toll that warfare can take on human lives.

Dirk Bogarde gives an emotionally charged performance as the frustrated defense officer, Captain Hargreaves, who feels patriotism should not take precedence over thoughtfulness and compassion for the individuals caught up in the turmoil of war. His character is caught in a moral clash with his senior officer, played impeccably by Leo McKern, who's determined to demonstrate to the troops that they will be dealt with harshly if they don't follow orders.

Tom Courtenay, who plays Private Hamp, also delivers an excellent performance. He portrays a man who was once full of vigor and optimism, who has now been shattered by the realities of war. His quiet rage and bitterness towards the system have a profound impact on the viewer, slowly building up to a moving climactic statement of existential despair.

The film also benefits from the outstanding cinematography by Denys Coop, whose use of high-contrast, monochrome imagery creates a tense, unsettling atmosphere that is perfect for the film's themes. The battle sequences are brief, but realistic, and their impact is heightened by the excellent sound design, with the sounds of bullets, explosions, boots sloshing the mud and the rumble of tanks, placed meticulously to create an immersive aural experience.

"King & Country" is a somber film that avoids any sort of triumphalist mood, instead, it poignantly depicts the tragedy of war from human perspectives while remaining remarkably faithful to history. This film reminds us of the devastating effects war has on individuals and society, and how humanity should take measures to prevent it from happening again.

King & Country is a 1964 war movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 28 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5.

King & Country
Where to Watch King & Country
King & Country is available to watch free on Plex. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent King & Country for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 28 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (2,465)