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Officers' Ward Review

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In the very first days of World War One, French lieutenant Adrien suffers terrible facial injuries when a bomb explodes beside him. For the next five years, he languishes in a hospital, enduring countless plastic surgery sessions.

★★★★

These days, most anti-war films are made as loud, self-important blockbusters. The Officers' Ward, however, brings the horrors of the battlefield down to a more intimate and affecting level.

In the very first days of World War One, French lieutenant Adrien (Caravaca) suffers terrible facial injuries when a bomb explodes beside him. For the next five years, he languishes in a hospital, enduring countless plastic surgery sessions. Adrien never fires a shot, but we still get a strong sense of the ongoing war, as more and more soldiers fill the beds around him. Refusing to let his family know the extent of his suffering, he bonds with a nurse and fellow officers in hospital, while quietly obsessing about a sexual encounter. The camera studiously follows his point of view - including the horrified reactions of others ó until he sees his own reflection, creating an empathetic tension.

War is mankind at its most monstrous - and here are men physically transformed into hideous monsters. To cope with their plight they turn to humour, longing, despair, religion, suicide... and yet their bonding reveals a heroism beyond any medal their country could offer.

A moving, reflective work portraying the horrific effects of war very effectively despite the lack of battle action