Jack fails two medical tests due to his severe myopia so his rabidly warmongering father pulls strings to get him into the Irish Guards. Kipling wants all men to go off to fight the hun and says any man who does not enlist should be shunned. Caroline and Jack’s sister Elise (Carrie Mulligan of ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’) are appalled.
Eager to avoid his dad’s tantrums about gutlessness and spinelessness and desperate to get away from him and not be seen as weak and watery Jack heads off. A clerical job is not good enough for his ghastly father, no not at all. Kipling spouts propaganda ignoring all the talk of insane tactics and massive casualties. Aged just 17 Jack has to command men and heads for the trenches. A friend of his was killed on his first day and his family can hear the guns in France from their palatial estate. The supercilious and patronising Kipling thinks it is all wonderful.
The day after his 18th birthday Jack goes over the top at the Battle of Loos and is declared MIA. His family search desperately for him. They spend months visiting the Red Cross and examining photographs of POWs until they finally learn his sad fate. The toxic Kipling recites a poem and his behaviour continues to leave me mystified. This was okay, better than that other horror of WW1 drama ‘All The King’s Men’.
“We load our boys up like Christmas trees.”
“My pigeon’s dead Sir.”
“Why did you let him go?”
“He died in the rain.”
“They’re degenerates but they ain’t psychos.”
“Let em take their chances out on the road just like we did.”
“You think biters figured out how to use weapons?”
“I don’t want to be planting crops in walker rotted soil.”
“How come we never hooked up?”