A closer look at…Testament of Youth

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Hannah Rowe.

Testament-of-Youth-Poster

The Scoop

It’s the golden Edwardian summer of 1914 and Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) is excited about what the future holds. After persuading her parents (Dominic West and Emily Watson) to let her sit the entrance exam and tutoring herself, she has been offered a place to study at Oxford and will soon escape provincial Derbyshire. Her brother Edward (Taron Egerton) is also Oxford-bound along with school friends Victor (Colin Morgan) and Roland (Kit Harrington). Vera and Roland, both aspiring writers, have been in correspondence with one another over the last few months and are falling in love. But as they embark on a heavily chaperoned courtship, the bells of war begin to toll and their worlds are turned upside down. Roland immediately turns down his place at Oxford to enlist and is soon joined by Edward and Victor. Vera moves to Oxford alone but after a while finds it impossible to study in the context of war. She surrenders her hard-won place at Oxford to become a nurse.

Day after day the newspapers list pages upon pages of the dead, and it becomes apparent that the war is not going to be as brief as everyone first thought. Vera’s nursing takes her to the western front where she witnesses the devastating cost of war on both sides. As she nurses captured German soldiers the seeds of her future pacifist thinking are sown. Will the Armistice come soon enough to save Vera’s loved ones and will she be able to find any hope in the devastation left by war?

read more

A closer look at…A Little Chaos

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

a_little_chaos_poster

A Little Chaos is rated 12 for moderate sex. The film is available on DVD.

What King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman) wants, he gets. In 1682, he decides he wants a monumental garden for the Palace of Versailles, full of terraces, ponds and fountains. Landscape architect André le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts) is put in charge of meeting these extravagant requirements, but feels that for the most lavish water feature he will need an assistant. Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) is an unconventional candidate. She’s straight-talking, her designs disrupt the acknowledged standards of order and symmetry, and she’s a woman. Nonetheless, she wins the job and finds herself thrown into the court of the Sun King.

The etiquette of the court is foreign to Sabine, and her status as a single woman means that she is constantly under scrutiny. All of this must be faced after long, hard days working in the garden. As Sabine battles with the difficult terrain, and with the King’s exacting demands, she is also battling with her own heart. She is haunted by the memory of her daughter and, perhaps most seriously of all, she finds herself falling for André.

read more

A closer look at…Cinderella

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.
Cinderella

This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. children Cinderella is rated U – contains very mild scenes of emotional upset. The film is available on DVD.

Once upon a time there lived a happy couple who had a daughter named Ella (Lily James). They share a golden existence in their beautiful house until the tragic, premature death of Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell). Before she dies she asks her daughter to do two things: ‘have courage and be kind’. These, she promises, will help her overcome the trials life throws at her. Time passes and Ella’s beloved father (Ben Chaplin) eventually remarries, bringing his daughter a Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and two stepsisters, Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger), to keep her company whilst he is away on business trips. But tragedy soon strikes again and Ella’s father dies too.

It soon becomes apparent that Ella’s new family have no intention of welcoming her. Over time she becomes their servant, left to do all the cooking and cleaning. Some nights she cannot find the energy to climb to her draughty attic room and so sleeps by the dying embers of the kitchen fire; leaving her covered in cinders come morning, and earning her the nickname Cinderella. Life is tough, but through all Ella remembers her mother’s instruction to ‘have courage and be kind’.  It is this spirit that captures the heart of Kit (Richard Madden), a ‘palace apprentice’ she meets by chance in the woods.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s young Prince is under pressure to choose a wife that will strengthen the country’s political footing. He is to make his decision at a lavish ball full of foreign princesses and, at the prince’s request, ordinary members of the public. Will Cinderella make it to the ball to meet Kit once again? Will they find out each other’s true identity? And will their families allow them their happily ever after?

read more

A closer look at…The Fault in our Stars

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Hannah Rowe.
the-fault-in-our-stars-movie-wallpaper-2
The Fault in Our Stars is rated 15 for terminal illness theme, strong language

Sixteen-year-old Hazel has thyroid cancer. A new drug has bought her some time but her constant companion is an oxygen tank and her illness is still terminal. Augustus lost a leg to cancer but is now in remission. Good-looking, charming and with a penchant for keeping an unsmoked cigarette between his lips as a ‘metaphor’, Hazel is instantly attracted. As they become friends, Hazel persuades him to read her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), which she finds to be the most honest portrayal of cancer. The book, which ends mid-sentence, leaves many questions unanswered and Hazel is desperate to ask the author what happens next. As Hazel and Gus become closer, Hazel is hesitant to leave another broken heart in her wake, but Gus won’t be deterred.

It is not until they travel to Amsterdam, on a once-in-a lifetime trip to see Van Houten, that she allows herself to fall head-over-heels in love. The trip is not what they expected though, for Van Houten’s reception is not entirely welcoming and Gus has some news to share. How much time will the young lovers have together? And how can they go about living a meaningful life in the short time that they do have?

read more

A closer look at… Her

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.

Her-with-Theodore-Twombly-on-red-movie-poster-wide

Her is rated 15 for strong language, sex references. The film is available on DVD.

Los Angeles, the near future. Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) works for a company which produces personalised love-letters for other people. Recently divorced from Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore is lonely and vulnerable, spending his days playing video games and making too-intimate connections with strangers via late-night phone calls. His only proper friend is his neighbour Amy (Amy Adams).

When he downloads a super-intelligent computer operating system (OS) to help him organise his life, Theodore is surprised to discover that ‘Samantha’ (Scarlett Johansson) – as she calls herself – understands him better than anyone. As their connection deepens, he realises that he’s falling in love, and that she seems to reciprocate. Can their relationship be real, even if Samantha isn’t?

read more