The backdrop of war has often provided an epic setting for some of the greatest romances in cinematic history, as audiences' appetite for tragic love stories shows no sign of abating.

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is the latest wartime movie that has a heartbreaking love story, as Vera Brittain's memoir of the same name has been adapted for the big screen. The movie is about to be released on DVD & Blu-Ray and we take a look at some of the greatest war movie romances.

- Testament of Youth (2014)

Testament of Youth is widely regarded as one of the greatest war memoirs and pieces of feminism literature of all time as it explores the impact that the First World War had on the lives on women like never before. The book also depicts Brittain's struggle to forge a career for herself and struggle against a society that didn't believe in the education of women.

Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander), irrepressible, intelligent, and free-minded, overcomes the prejudices of her family and hometown to win a scholarship to Oxford. With everything to live for, she falls in love with her brother's close friend Roland Leighton (Kit Harington) as they go to University to pursue their literary dreams. But the First World War is looming and as the boys leave for the front Vera realises she cannot sit idly by as her peers fight for their country, so volunteers as a nurse.

Both Vikander and Harington bring a wonderful playfulness to their initial courtship (with brilliant comedic support from Joanna Scanlan as their chaperone), and as the war separates them evolve this chemistry into something utterly moving.

Both Vikander and Harington are quickly making a name for themselves on the big screen and the pair really does shine in this movie about war, love, and loss. Testament of Youth has brought Brittain's extraordinary story to a new generation.

Testament of Youth

- Cold Mountain (2003)

This critically acclaimed wartime epic tells the story of Confederate soldier Inman (Jude Law) who undertakes a perilous journey back home to Cold Mountain, North Carolina, in order to reunite with his sweetheart, Ada (Nicole Kidman), the woman he left behind to fight in the Civil War. Along the way, he meets a long line of interesting characters, all the while avoiding the soldiers tasked with hunting deserters.

Parallel to his story is Ada's, as she struggles to learn the ropes of managing her deceased father's farm with help from the scatty, no-nonsense Ruby (an Oscar-winning turn from Renée Zellweger), all the while fantasising about the return of her lost love.

Kidman and Law spend hardly any screen time together, yet their brilliant, yearning performances more than make up for this to illustrate their desperation and longing to reunite.

Cold Mountain is a sweeping war epic that may have romance at its core, but doesn't shy away from showing the horrors and brutality of war. Director and writer Anthony Minghella balance these two very different aspects of the movie beautifully as he brought the Charles Frazier book to the big screen.

Cold Mountain

- Atonement (2007)

Joe Wright returned to the director's chair in 2007 for only the second feature film of his career - he made his debut with Pride & Prejudice - and saw him reunite with actress Keira Knightley.

This heartbreaking wartime drama based on Ian McEwan's bestselling novel boasts a stellar cast, including Knightley, James McAvoy, Saiorse Ronan, Benedict Cumberbatch and Vanessa Redgrave. When the budding romance between Cecilia Tallis (Knightley) and Robbie Turner (McAvoy) is cut brutally short following a lie told by Bryony Tallis (Ronan), the repercussions span several decades. After choosing the army over prison, Robbie is stationed at Dunkirk, while Cecilia takes a role as a nurse in London.

Knightley provides a masterfully reserved turn as the stoic Cecilia, while McAvoy's take on the morally upstanding, innocent and fundamentally kind Robbie is completely heartbreaking.

Special mention must be given to Wright's masterful tackling of the novel's twist ending. He stayed true to the source material to deliver a beautiful looking and powerful movie about love and war. Those scenes on the beaches at Dunkirk stay with you long after the credits have rolled.


- Casablanca (1942)

Hard to believe, but Casablanca was a movie that was not held as in as high regard when it was first released as it is now. Over the years, the film's reputation has grown and it is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time.

This classic WWII drama, starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart as former lovers Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund, takes place in unoccupied Casablanca and is responsible for one of the most mis-quoted movie lines of all time. When the Nazi Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt) arrives in Casablanca, the sycophantic police Captain Renault (Claude Rains) goes above and beyond to appease him- including detaining Czechoslovak underground leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid).

Lazslo's partner is Ilsa, who ran out on Blaine in Paris and left him completely embittered. But when it transpires that her reasons were honourable, the pair hatch a plan to run off together again, and pick up where they left off...

In my eyes, Casablanca is a true masterpiece and is one of the greatest love stories that has ever been brought to the big screen. Bogart and Bergman are just perfect as Rick and Ilsa and it is this movie and these roles that these two actors are synonymous with.

You cannot help but be swept away with the film's romance and it is a film that will soften even the hardest and most cynical of hearts. Casablanca is one of those iconic films that you just have to have seen.


- The English Patient (1996)

Anthony Minghella wrote and directed this multi-award winning epic based on Michael Ondaatje's novel about a doomed romance set against the backdrop of WWII. In a field hospital in Italy, nurse Hana (Juliette Binoche) is caring for a pilot who was horribly burned in a plane wreck.

Hana determines mid evacuation that the patient shouldn't be moved far due to his fragile condition, so the two are left in a monastery to be picked up later. Slowly, she begins to piece together the patient's story told in flashbacks.

She discovers that her charge is in fact the Hungarian Count Laszlo Almásy (Ralph Fiennes) - who while mapping unchartered territory in North Africa, was thrown together with English couple Geoffrey (Colin Firth) and Katherine Clifton (Kristin Scott-Thomas) resulting in an affair which lead him to betray not only his friend, but his country.

The English Patient was widely regarded as one of the books that could not be adapted for the big screen... however, Minghella proved otherwise as he delivered a moving and powerful movie.

The English Patient is a movie that is packed with fascinating characters and complex relationships. What I love about this movie the most, is that fact that this sweeping epic feels incredibly intimate.

Fiennes, Thomas, Binoche, and Andrews are on top form and are the actors that really help bring these love stories to life.

The English Patient

- Gone with the Wind (1939)

One of the most beloved movies of all time, and winner of ten Academy Awards, including for Hattie McDaniel's and Vivien Leigh's performances, Gone with the Wind follows the life of spoiled, pampered Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara (Leigh).

After discovering a former beau is engaged, Scarlett's behaviour leads her straight into the arms of the wayward Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), the black sheep of a wealthy Charleston family, who is instantly fascinated by the spirited, self-absorbed Scarlett.

The movie's action continues, through the American Civil War, the burning of Atlanta, Scarlett's journey from riches to poverty, and three marriages, all the way to the now-classic closing line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Hard to believe that Gone with the Wind was released back in 1939 and yet, it remains one of the greatest movies that has ever been released. Gone With The Wind is so synonymous with romance that it is quite often overlooked as a terrific war movie.

Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara are characters that are just as iconic as the movie itself, Clark Gable, and Vivien Leigh sizzle together.

- Life is Beautiful (1997)

This stunning tragicomedy was directed by Roberto Benigni and also garnered him a best leading actor Academy Award. Set in 1939, Benigni plays Jewish-Italian Guido Orefice working as a waiter to fund his plans to open a bookshop. When he meets a schoolteacher named Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), his effervescent humour ultimately sweeps her off her feet.

On the fifth birthday of their son Giosué (Giorgio Cantarini), World War II is in full force, and since they are Jewish, the Germans take away Guido and Giosué to a labour camp. Wanting to be with her family, Dora insists she goes too, but is taken to the women's side of the camp.

In an attempt to protect Giosué from the horror of their situation and ensure they are not separated, Guido tells him that they are playing a game, in which he can win points by staying out of sight of the guards. The first to win 1000 points wins a real tank. Guido's primary goal is to keep Giosué safe at all cost, while he desperately tries to find out a way to get his family out of the camp and keep the Germans at bay before they discover Giosué.

Life is Beautiful is a beautiful, charming, and poignant - particularly when you discover that some of the story came from Benigni's family history - his father survived three years at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

The movie was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture. It went on to scoop four - including Best Actor for Benigni and Best Foreign Language Film.

Life is Beautiful

Testament of Youth is available on digital platforms from 8th May 2015, and on Blu-ray and DVD from 25th May 2015, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.