The film 1917 is a very vivid depiction of the brutalities of war.

The life in the trenches, death all around, the corpses of humans and animals - mainly horses - in the fields.

The kill or be killed attitude that was needed to survive in such situations. But maybe above all the feeling of a total waste of life.

Literally, millions of people were caught up in the process of killing - in most cases not knowing what it was all about, other than being for King and Country.

1917, like many films before it, concentrates on the more honourable and valiant elements of individual actions in war. It would though be interesting one day to take a different view.

Not everyone did buy into King and Country.

There were the conscientious objectors, who opposed war in all its forms on moral and religious grounds.

There were those who didn't want to go over the top. The officers often stood with weapons drawn making it clear that there was no other choice than to go. Those who deserted were treated harshly, with often very young soldiers shot at dawn for such actions.

The Second World War was a no more popular venture with many. A rarely mentioned occurrence was the number of planes that put down in neutral countries, rather than face combat.

After both world wars, there were the after effects of conflict.

The recognition of resulting mental problems, like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is relatively recent. The number traumatised in such ways, receiving no help, and then finishing up in the prison system was a national disgrace. There is more recognition now, but for too long government was in denial, too concerned about legal liability and potential compensation claims that could result.

One has to wonder what the true cost of the world wars was in terms of the damage done to mental health. Shell shock was the term used to describe those who got flashbacks, etc.

I am sure the true cost in terms of damage to family life, domestic abuse, suicides and incarceration for resulting crimes due to PTSD caused by the world wars has never been calculated.

1917 and other films begin to show the suffering of war, but there is still much to be done to provide a real view of the total futility and moral bankruptcy of such conflicts as a means to resolve differences.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See