War Requiem (1990)




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The late great Derek Jarman's film of Benjamin Britten's unique choral work. Faced with the task of creating a visual equivalent to Britten's work, and using only the words Britten used (the poems of Wilfred Owen and the Latin Mass for the Dead), Jarman cast Tilda Swinton as the nurse looking after the young, doomed Wilfred Owen and persuaded Laurence Olivier, in his final screen role, to play the Unknown Soldier. The result is one of the most passionate pleas for peace come out of the dark days of the late 1980s......
Art House & International , Documentary , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
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Nathaniel Parker
as Wilfred Owen
Laurence Olivier
as Old Soldier
Rohan McCullough
as Enemy Mother
Nigel Terry
as Abraham
Owen Teale
as Unknown Soldier
Sean Bean
as German Soldier
Milo Bell
as Soldier
Claire Davenport
as Charge Sister/Britannia
Alex Jennings
as Blinded Soldier
Kim Kindersley
as Soldier
Spencer Leigh
as Soldier
David Meyer
as Businessman
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Critic Reviews for War Requiem

All Critics (5)

A stunning visual film that's combined with the spectacular interpretation of composer Benjamin Britten's 1961 orchestral and oratorio masterpiece.

Full Review… | April 27, 2012
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Like nearly all of Derek Jarman's films, his War Requiem is an uneven work where it's often easier to admire what was attempted more than what was actually achieved.

Full Review… | November 5, 2008
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The rhythm of the images attunes the viewer to the music's components.

November 6, 2004

Quote not available.

September 25, 2005

Quote not available.

Full Review… | July 30, 2003
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for War Requiem

Derek Jarman's War Requiem is a potent, poetic visualization of composer Benjamin Britten's grandiose anti-war composition of the same name. An eloquent, complex and profoundly negative statement on war.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

It's often difficult to enter into Jarman's world and vision, but this film can be quite rewarding if you allow yourself entrance.

Michael Troudt
Michael Troudt

The powerful "War Requiem" starts with an old man(Laurence Olivier, in his last screen appearance, more or less) being pushed in his wheelchair by a nurse(Tilda Swinton) while regaling her with tales of his experiences in World War I. That was the same war that poet Wilfred Owen(Nathaniel Parker) served in and died towards the end of. On the surface, he is the subject of this film, as it follows him in a nonsequential fashion from basic training through the inhumanity he witnessed in the trenches, with rare moments of caring and sympathy. Along with this haunting imagery, there is also a good deal of Christian symbolism, which this being a Derek Jarman film, might offend one or two people. To describe his experiences, Owen used letters home and poetry which resonates to the present day(while the main setting is World War I, archival footage is shown from more recent wars) and the power of the written word is key here. Ironically, this is a movie without words, all sound coming from a requiem written by Benjamin Britten which contributes to form a grieving tribute to fallen soldiers of all eras.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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