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Coward and The War Novel: The Wars Comparison

In both stories, the action takes place during World War I, during which new technological weaponry and trench warfare were heavily used. As shown in the film, the forces used artillery and hid in trenches, however the book cites the use of mustard gas throughout the war, and the need of remaining in subterranean bunkers, as well as the employment of machine guns. It was shown in both the novel and the film, which were both set during World War II, that the men were exposed to horrendous living conditions during their service. They were shown living in muddy dugouts and working despite the fact that it was snowing or raining outside their camp in the short film “Coward.” Throughout “The War,” this was witnessed on a number of occasions. In one scenario, Robert, the main character, is on board the S.S. Massanabie, where soldiers were squeezed into small bunks and exposed to polluted air, which caused some of them to fall unconscious.

Both the novel and the short film seem to be characterized by a feeling of unease brought on by the struggle. When the soldiers are on their break in a short film, they are suddenly attacked and must defend their lives despite the fact that they are dazed and confused as a consequence of the sudden bombardment. The book also recounted a moment during which Robert’s dugout was suddenly blasted by the Germans, resulting in the deaths of Robert’s colleagues and the complete devastation of their dugout, which was quite similar to the image in the novel.

Another similarity between the two plays is the way in which they showed the trauma that servicemen suffered as a consequence of the fighting. In the narrative, there were many instances when individuals were driven to madness as a consequence of the painful conditions that they had been subjected to. As a result of the explosion in their dugout, Robert’s friend Levitt was knocked unconscious and received a concussion (Vadalà, 2021). Another character, Captain Taffler, sought to commit suicide after being injured in a battle in which he lost both of his arms. A second point to mention is that the main character of the short film, Andrew, was caught aback by the sudden attack that they had faced, which forced him to abandon his position, finally leading in his death. Because I read the book and saw the short film, I became more aware of the challenges that soldiers endured while fighting in combat. Examples include living in horrific conditions, such as those experienced by the troops in the film and novel, or being compelled to carry out activities that are against their moral values, such as when Robert was ordered to kill the injured horse, among other things. Following the reading of these works, I was able to see the cruelty of life under the conditions of an active military battle.

The short film, without a doubt, adds to the imagery of the atrocities stated in the original essay. A visual and aural presentation of the narrative enhanced the impact that the story had on the audience, despite the fact that the book did an outstanding job of expressing an attack. As a result of seeing and hearing the battlefield, the soldiers’ scared looks, the strong exchange of assaults, as well as the explosions, gunshots, and ringing Andrew heard, I understood how terrifying it must be to serve in a combat zone. The fact that both compositions are concerned with a topic that is somewhat similar does not preclude them from taking a very different approach to it. Those responsible for creating the short film will have the opportunity to use extra cinematography and sound effects to completely immerse the viewer in the plot. Using diverse views on certain circumstances, for example, they may provide viewers with a more complete understanding of what is going on. They may also contribute to the creation of a mood for the picture by using a variety of camera angles and color grading techniques. The opposite is true in that a book may show a higher number of events than a film, making it more complete than a movie. It may also contain a detailed narrative of the events, as well as more insight into the perspectives of the characters in the tale. A writer may also experiment with various writing styles in order to better communicate the story to the audience (Cormier, 2018).

However, since they both take place during World War I, and if the stories of the book and film are very different, there are several connections between them. As previously said, both works depicted the living conditions of soldiers during a war, the uncertainties that accompany conflict, and the trauma that soldiers endure as a consequence of the things they’ve seen and experienced while serving in a combat situation, respectively. My research found that a significant proportion of soldiers serving during that time period suffered from shell shock, which is a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which resulted in their being severely punished. When it comes to the third element, I’ve focused my emphasis on the visual and auditory aspects of the film. I’ve chosen to concentrate on the cinematography and sound design of the film as my fourth point since these are the aspects that separate it from the book. When it comes to the book, I have said that it has the potential to convey more of what life was like during the war, and that it can experiment with different writing approaches in order to better describe the events that transpired during that time.


Cormier, M. (2018). Ulyssean Influences on Postmodern Identities: Revisiting Timothy Findley’s The Wars. ESC: English Studies in Canada, 44(4), 63-85.

Vadalà, C. (2021). Scenic design for Timothy Findley’s The Wars adapted by Dennis Garnhum (Doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia).


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