- 1 hr 54 min
Regeneration is a powerful and haunting film directed by Gillies MacKinnon, based on the novel of the same name by Pat Barker. Set during World War I, the movie explores the psychological toll of the conflict on the soldiers who fought in it, particularly through the experiences of Siegfried Sassoon (James Wilby) and Wilfred Owen (Stuart Bunce), two of the most celebrated poets of the era.
The story begins when Sassoon, a decorated officer who has grown disillusioned with the war, publishes a public letter condemning it as a "war of aggression and conquest." Rather than court-martial him, however, Sassoon is sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, where he is treated for a "war neurosis" by psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers (Jonathan Pryce).
At the hospital, Sassoon meets other soldiers who have been traumatized by their experiences on the front lines, including Owen, a young poet who idolizes Sassoon and is struggling to reconcile his literary ambitions with his duty to his country. The two men become close friends, and Sassoon begins to mentor Owen as a writer.
Meanwhile, Rivers is grappling with his own ethical conflicts. He believes that his duty is to help the soldiers under his care heal from their mental wounds, but he also knows that they will be sent back to the front lines as soon as they are deemed fit for duty. As the war drags on and the carnage continues, Rivers begins to question the morality of the conflict itself, and his role in perpetuating it.
Regeneration is a visually stunning film, with starkly beautiful cinematography that captures both the horror of the war and the beauty of the Scottish countryside. The script is spare and powerful, with much of the emotional impact conveyed through the characters' subtle facial expressions and body language.
The performances are uniformly excellent, with Pryce delivering a nuanced and understated turn as the conflicted psychiatrist, and Wilby and Bunce bringing a quiet intensity to their roles as Sassoon and Owen. Jonny Lee Miller is also excellent as another patient at the hospital, Billy Prior, whose tough exterior masks a deep-seated fear of returning to the front lines.
The film does not shy away from the brutality of the war, and there are several scenes that are hard to watch, including a sequence in which Rivers visits the trenches to observe the soldiers in action. However, the focus of the film is squarely on the psychological impact of the conflict, and the toll it takes on the soldiers who are forced to fight in it.
Regeneration is a haunting and thought-provoking film that raises important questions about the morality of war and the human cost of conflict. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of World War I, the power of literature to heal trauma, or the psychological impact of war on soldiers and civilians alike.
Regeneration is a 1998 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 54 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0.