Journey's End Asa Butterfield

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is as much of an issue now as it was 100 years ago, although back then no one really knew what it was. 

In the 1920s playwright and novelist, RC Sheriff wrote Journey’s End, a First World War story about PTSD, based on true accounts. It was quite an unusual play.

Saul Dibb, who has brought the story to life on the big screen says,

“At the time [it was] a very shocking depiction of a captain who’d become an alcoholic at 21.”

Listen to the full interview above.

Forces Radio BFBS presenter Rosie Duffield spoke to the director ahead of the DVD release of the film.  

Saul has worked on a variety of historical films but has never directed anything to do with the military before. 

He says working on Journey’s End has given him a greater understanding of what the First World War was like:

"... the unrelenting pressure, and that sense of a conveyor belt of young men who were ferried out to the front and who very often died”.

Journey's End Sam Claflin

 With mental health a key focus for the military, it was important for the production crew on Journey’s End to portray things accurately and sensitively. 

The cast and crew met with three soldiers from Combat Stress, who talked them through what PTSD is like. 

Saul revealed the veterans explained “how it felt, how it manifested itself… and that was just a valuable insight into how we should be representing it”.

There is always pressure to make a successful film, but Saul says there is added pressure:

“when you’re dealing with representations of war and warfare, and what people go through…when you’re looking at that degree of psychological impact”.

Journey's End frontline

Normally directors crave good reviews from the critics and the press, but that was not the focus for the Journey’s End team. 

Saul says that the three soldiers from Combat Stress were the most important critics for him.

“There would be no nonsense from them about whether it’s an honest depiction or not. 

"[They would] desperately want unsentimental and honest representations of what life was like, so they were the people who were in my mind as I was making [the film]”

Journey's End Paul Bettany

There are a number of war films on the big screen, so why is it so important to carry on telling those stories?

Saul says the experience is universal. He recently met someone from Syria who related to the film directly: 

“I had an experience that was like this. We were waiting somewhere, there was no way out, and we were waiting for an enormous bombardment”

The director suggests, “The psychological impact is exactly the same”.

Journey’s End is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital release now.

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