1990s Behind The Lines (1997)

Published on March 10th, 2013 | by Chris


Behind The Lines (1997)

Movie directed by:
Gillies MacKinnon

Reviewed by:
On March 10, 2013
Last modified:February 17, 2013


Definitely difficult at times, but thought provoking and surely soul searching....

Behind The Lines (1997)

Behind The Lines, or Regeneration, depending on where you see it, takes place during World War I in an Army mental hospital in Scotland.  Dr. Capt. Rivers (Jonathan Pryce) is the lead doctor in charge of rehabilitating soldiers suffering from PTSD, or as it was called then "shell shock."  His job, to put it bluntly, is to get these guys over their "shock" and back out in the trenches.

Lt. Sassoon (James Wilby) gets sent to Rivers, due to a manifesto he's written condemning the war on a political level.  Really nothing wrong with him, per se, just they don't want him on the lines influencing the men.  But, in my opinion, Sassoon really is not the focus of this movie.  Don't fall for it.

Also in the hospital is Lt. Billy Prior, (Jonny Lee Miller) whom we spend much more time with and get to know so much more than Sassoon.   At first, he's in a state of "mutism" as the doctor puts it, where he can't speak due to his mental trauma.  Eventually he and the doctor work through that, and finally through the root of Prior's problem, which up until now he hasn't been able to remember.  Seems he witnessed one 0f his men literally blown to bits by a German shell (in a rather grisly scene I might add)...   Once this memory surfaces, Prior starts his road to recovery...

...but then there is the good Doctor.  All these years of dealing with mentally damaged soldiers is taking its toll on him.  In fact, he's beginning to suffer from the same symptoms, after hearing these stories and seeing first hand the mental trauma that this war is causing.  I think that this, more than anything is the central point of the movie.  Just how horrible it all is, so much so that even the doctor is not immune to it.

There are several other ancillary stories that bear mentioning, such as Prior's foray into the nearby town and his meeting a girl, Sarah (Tanya Allen) which probably helped in his recovery also.  There's the story of poet Wilfred Owen, who once "cured" was sent back out, only to be killed in action.  And the strange field trip to another similar facility, where shock treatments are being tested as a means to "cure" these individuals....  Although it appears more tantamount to torture....

As for Sassoon?  He also gets sent back, but with a slightly better fate than others.   Since he was never "crazy" to begin with, though, he was never really cured, but rather still adamant in his position, although agreeable to working within the system.....

The doctor, though, is helped by the very patients he aims to cure, and I suppose it all works out.  If nothing else I guess you could say that there are lessons here that are really timeless.  That these wounds, while not physical, are indeed real and that they require attention and help to either get through, or at the very least deal with on a daily basis.....

Behind The Lines gets a 3.5/5 from me.  Definitely difficult at times, but thought provoking and surely soul searching....

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In the midst of WWI, Edinburgh's Craiglockhart Hospital is crowded with traumatized soldiers scarred by the horrors of battle. Dr. William Rivers (Jonathan Pryce, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), the hospital psychiatrist who hovers on the edge of a nervous breakdown as he attempts to 'cure' the incurable; the eminent writer Siegfried Sassoon, a sane soldier sent to Craiglockhart following the publication of his anti-war poetry; Wilfred Owen (James Wilby, Gosford Park), a writer whose craft is transformed by Sassoon's support; and Billy Prior (Jonny Lee Miller, Endgame), a mute officer involved in a tender love affair, bring the era to life in this compelling, ""stirring and articulate exploration of warfare…"" (The New York Times).

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: Echo Bridge Entertainment
Manufacturer: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
  • Jonathan Pryce
  • James Wilby
  • Jonny Lee Miller


  • Factory sealed DVD


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Behind The Lines (1997) Chris



User Rating: 3.5 (1 votes)

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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

One Response to Behind The Lines (1997)

  1. Includes disturbing scenes that make you think and might stay with you for a while.

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