Journey’s End DVD (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, £9.99) It’s 1918 and a young lieutenant, Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), arrives on the western front. In contrast to many would-be combatants during the Vietnam War half a century later, he has used his connections not to avoid conflict but to ensure he is in the thick of the action. Raleigh wants to serve with a family friend, Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin).
But, as this fine adaptation of RC Sherriff’s 1928 stage play makes painfully clear, Raleigh’s admiration of Stanhope is misplaced because the officer’s experiences of warfare have left him hollowed, an aggressive alcoholic. This meeting of innocence and traumatised cynicism is, of course, intended to be symbolic, yet it also works brilliantly as drama because life in the trenches is so claustrophobic. This makes a film adaptation risky because there’s the danger of opening out the text, of introducing too much distracting spectacle to a piece that is, at root, about the futility of conflict. That this never happens is to the credit of writer Simon Reade and director Saul Dibb. The cast, which also includes Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham, excels – so when tragedy strikes, it is as gut-wrenching for all as it is inevitable.
Asa Butterfield turns in a mature performance as the wide-eyed rookie Raleigh