BENEDICTION explores the turbulent life of First World War poet, Siegfried Sassoon, through the eyes of the revered filmmaker Terence Davies.Sassoon was a complex man who survived the horrors of fighting in the First World War and was decorated for his bravery but who became a vocal critic of the government’s continuation of the war when he returned from service. His poetry was inspired by his experiences on the Western Front and he became one of the leading war poets of the era.Adored by members of the aristocracy as well as stars of London’s literary and stage world, he embarked on affairswith several men as he attempted to come to terms with his homosexuality. At the same time, broken by the horror of war, he made his life’s journey a quest for salvation, trying to find it within the conformity of marriage and religion. His story is one of a troubled man in a fractured world searching for peace and self acceptance, something which speaks as meaningfully to the modern world as it did then.

Director's Statement

Little did I realise just what a huge thing I’d taken on when I agreed to the film of Sassoon’s life.During my research the task seemed very daunting. Sassoon’s life encompassed the first world war, his poetry, his upper class social world, his failed gay relationships, his failedmarriage and conversion to catholicism. The key, seemed to me, was to concentrate on the subtext of his life - his search for validation and redemption. These last two things he did not achieve and therein lies the drama.I always knew that I wanted to use the actual footage of the first world war and this gave me the background to the story and informed the rest of the narrative. As to the set up, shooting, editing of the film, and all the post production. Sheer joy from beginning to end. Everyone gave me absolute support and commitment. No director could ask for more. No director was more blessed than I was.

Director's Biography

Davies was born in Liverpool in 1945, the youngest child in a large working-class family. After working for ten years as a clerk and a bookkeeper, he entered Coventry School of Drama in 1971 and the National Film School in the 80s. During this time, he made The Terence Davies Trilogy, which put him on the cinematic map as one of the most original British film-makers of the late 20th century.

2021 - BENEDICTION, Feature
2016 - A QUIET PASSION, Feature
2015 - SUNSET SONG, Feature
2011 - THE DEEP BLUE SEA, Feature
2008 - OF TIME AND THE CITY, Documentary
2000 - THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, Feature
1995 - THE NEON BIBLE, Feature
1992 - THE LONG DAY CLOSES, Feature

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Terence Davies

Written by: Terence Davies

Produced by: Mike Elliott, Deborah Aston

Cinematography: Nicola Daley

Editing: Alex Mackie

Production Design: Andy Harris

Costume Design: Annie Symons

Make-Up & Hair: Veronica McAleer

Sound: Andy Shelley, Ed Bailie, Abi Leland, Stephen Griffiths

Casting: Lucy Rands

Cast: Jack Lowden (Siegfried Sassoon), Simon Russell Beale (Robbie Ross), Peter Capaldi (Siegfried Sassoon (Older)), Jeremy Irvine (Ivor Novello), Kate Phillips (Hester Gatty), Gemma Jones (Hester Sassoon (Older))

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2022