Coward tells the story of two cousins from Northern Ireland who enlist in the British army during World War I.
Directed by David Roddham, the film follows cousins Andrew and James through the trenches and No Man’s Land at Ypres in 1917. The set for the battlefield, including a 200 foot long trench, was meticulously reconstructed in over three acres of field land in Hertfordshire, England, resulting in panning wide shots and brilliant perspective angles.
Roddham had the idea for his film while reading an article in the Irish Times on the punishment for deserting Irish soldiers in the British army during the war. Roddham quickly became interested in the historical complexities of these desertion cases.
“A lot of the guys had kind of come back and forth from the hospitals and been sent back into the trenches. You know, some of them eight, nine times. And then that was it, they couldn’t take it anymore,” Roddham says in a documentary about making the video.
By the end of the war, 26 Irish soldiers serving in the British military had been executed for desertion or disobedience, though they were later thought to have been suffering from shell shock. In 2006, all 306 soldiers executed for such offences were granted full pardon by the British government.
The film brings to light the controversial method of dealing with traumatized soldiers at the time when diseases such as shell shock were first being diagnosed through the lens of two Northern Irish infantrymen.
Directed by David Roddham, produced by Dave Komaroni, cinematography by Stephen Murphy. Starring Martin McCann and Sean Stewart. 2012. 28min.
A featurette about the making of Coward: