By Renee Lou Dallow

“God was in his heaven, and there were sausages for breakfast.”

Terence Davies’ new film, Benediction, is about the life, loves and the poetry of queer World War 1 British poet Siegfried Sassoon.

In the film, he is asked by a military tribunal if he is pro-German, to which Siegfried played by Jack Lowden replies,  “I’m pro-human.” Sassoon, a decorated war hero who became disillusioned with the endless conflict and casualties, was anti-war and spoke out against the powers of the day failing to state conditions for peace.

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He thought the war had been deliberately prolonged by those who had the power to end it. “ Soldiers marching all to die, Lovely lads and dead and rotten.“ He spoke about war being like theatre for the masses and was disgusted with the “callous complacency” of those back home.

Struggles With His Homosexuality

The film then moves to another conflict – his life and struggles with his homosexuality. A long passionate affair with actor Ivor Novello (Jeremy Irvine) and a somewhat more sensitive and empathetic relationship with Stephen Tennant (Calm Lynch) follow before Sassoon marries Hester Gatty (Kate Phillips) and has a son, George (Richard Goulding). All the while he is questioning both his past and his future.

As an old man (Peter Capaldi), he seeks answers in Catholicism because he considers it to be, “Permanent and Unchanging.”

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This film is an epic and there is so much in it, including real footage of the trenches, that one review cannot possibly do it justice.

Beautiful, Gut Wrenching

Jack Lowden (right) as Siegfried Sassoon and Jeremy Irvine as Ivor Novello in ‘Benediction’.

The last scene, a long closeup, is truly one of the most poignant moments in the film.

The last poem in the film is not by Sassoon but by Wilfred Owen. Owen was another great WW1 poet mentored by Sassoon, who died on the battlefield, exactly one week before the signing of the Armistice, which ended the war. The poem is also heavy on the soul.

A beautiful and gut-wrenchingly sensitive performance by Jack Lowden as Sassoon and an equally moving performance by Calam Lynch as Stephen Tennant, this film is a must watch.

Benediction is playing in cinemas now. 

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