Review: Walter’s War (2008)

Walter's War (2008)While the facts of Walter Tull’s life are exemplary, the fictional film Walter’s War leaves too much unsaid. Tull’s unique achievements, as one of the first Black British footballers, and then as the first Black British officer in Europe’s trenches, are now heralded.

Unfortunately, the significance of his accomplishments are not set in context in this film. For Tull to have been part of the Football Battalion and to have been a leader of white soldiers should be more adequately explained, because during World War 1, Black British recruits were largely used for menial labor and were not even trained for combat.

Instead, Writer Kwame Kwei-Armah’s story focuses primarily on Tull’s battle during officer training school to rise above blatant discrimination and PTSD flashbacks, relieved by a bit of bi-racial romance. There is no football in this BBC movie made for TV. For me, the documentary Walter Tull: The Forgotten Hero is a far better production.

The DVD has a 60-minute extra feature, The Somme – From Defeat to Victory. It’s actually longer than Walter’s War and even has a sliver of soccer. It is an excellent enactment of the military mistakes on July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme, which in its first day cost 57k British casualties including 19k lives lost. It also explains how the second battle of the Somme was won with better strategy (frontline decision making) and technology (tanks and air support), leading to the defeat of Germany’s Kaiser and the end of WW1. Walter Tull was killed in action in the second battle.

In English
53 minutes
Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5

Released: 2008-11-09 (BBC Four TV)
Walter Tull historical info:
Director: Alrick Riley
Stars: O.T. Fagbenle , Kwame Kwei-Armah
Watch the film at: