The film tells the story of a young Oxford University student who postpones her studies during World War I to serve as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse and goes on to become a writer and a pacifist.
British actor Kit Harington plays her love interest: “I read the memoir many years ago when I was at school and then as a result chose to study the war poets. So I came into this with a real sort of vested interest in this film and knowing the story quite well. So when the script came through the door, immediately my interest piqued,” said the actor at the London premiere.
Vera Brittain, an intelligent, free-minded young woman in the early 20th century, overcomes her family’s prejudices and wins a scholarship to Oxford to pursue her literary dreams. But when the First World War breaks out and both her brother and her lover leave for the front, Vera realises she cannot sit idly by as her peers fight for their country.
Vera Brittain’s daughter Shirley Williams attended the film’s premiere: “I think it brings out this extraordinary sense of humanity and the way in which humanity is capable of killing itself, destroying itself, but you have to fight back against that,” she said. “And I think that when she (Vera Brittain) is shown in the German ward, nursing German prisoners, what it brings out, at least on my mother’s side, is her powerful sense that wars should end, that they were going nowhere and she felt that all her life.”
Swedish actress Alicia Vikander has received critical praise for her performance as Vera Brittain, in what’s been described as "an impressive, unashamedly classical feature debut" by British producer James Kent.
‘Testament of Youth’ is on global release from now.