Reporting from the Trenches
Fred Roberts (Ben Chaplin) and his men are in Ypres dealing with nearby shelling when they stumble across an old printing press along with enough ink and paper to start a newspaper. With one of the men having being a print setter in Fleet Street before that is exactly what they do, creating the Wipers Times, a satirical little paper full of trench humour. Not everyone appreciates the moral boosting little paper and things don't always go smoothly when the press is destroyed by a mortar shell but after moving on they come across another old press and start up again.
The true story on which "The Wipers Times" is the sort of thing, that British spirit which makes you smile that in the midst of war some men took it upon themselves to boost morale with a little satirical paper. And that side of the movie is certainly entertaining as we learn about the drama during WWI as these men whilst facing fire and the trench conditions. In fact the updates to this with several swipes at The Daily Mail makes for a wonderfully humorous little drama which is almost stranger than fiction.
But alongside this satirical look at how The Wipers Times came to be and the camaraderie of the men whilst in the trenches they have tried to turn the little satirical pieces from the paper into little sketches. For me it just doesn't quite work and at times the switch to black & white makes it all a little surreal. It also dilutes what is very much the story of Fred Roberts as it is through Roberts that much of the story is told; from him trying to get a job in the press after the war to a spell in hospital during the war.
What this all boils down to is that "The Wipers Times" is certainly entertaining if you enjoy the whit of Ian Hislop who is one of the movie's writers and it is also a little informative, getting across some of the drama of WWI with a personal account. But for me the choice to include the satire in form of sketches ends up a little too surreal at times and spoils it ever so slightly.
Tags: World War I