Special Cinema Spotlight: Birdsong

by - January 21, 2015

A Vintage Nerd

There seems to be a scarcity of films and television shows that are set during the turn of the last century or around the Great War so when I found Birdsong I knew I had to check it out. It is based on the 1993 war novel by Sebastian Faulks by the same name. It stars Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy (from the Harry Potter films) as forbidden lovers with WWI as its backdrop.

The film focuses mainly on the story of Stephan Wraysford (Redmayne) and is told in a series of flashbacks from before the war to during the war. I have to say I really like how they used the flashbacks to set the tone and explain why Wraysford was the way he was. In doing so you really got a chance to get into his mindset and understand him. Then again Redmayne is a superb actor.

His affair with a young and married Isabelle Azaire (Poesy) is the recurring theme throughout his experiences in war. It is as though that love was haunting him. I found that to be refreshing since you often watch a story of a female being haunted by such experiences, you get a chance to see it through a young man's eyes.

I have to say I did not fall in love with Redmayne and Poesy as a couple. I didn't empathize with her character as much as I did his and in some ways I found them to be mismatched. Usually you can feel yourself cheering for a couple to be together but I felt like it was doomed from the beginning because she always gave that impression that it would be doomed.

I did love the friendships he had with fellow officers Weir (Richard Madden) and Jack Firebrace (Joseph Mawle) which I found believable and very moving.

Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne

Watching the film made me more intrigued to find out how the story goes in the book so I will have to get my hands on that at some point.

Redmayne was excellent and viewing another story set during WWI was just another opportunity to learn more about that time. I enjoyed it very much and it is available on Netflix via dvd and in Amazon HERE.

Have you see Birdsong? Have you read the book? What did you think about it?

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  1. I haven't seen it or read the book, but I do very much enjoy stories set in this era, too. In no small part because of my childhood passion (obsession! :D) with the Canadian TV series Road to Avonlea (that was set in the 1900s - 1910s). Thank you for another great introduction!

    ♥ Jessica