Will and TestamentCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Will and Testament, a documentary by Skip Kite, is a short snippet of Tony Benn’s illustrious life and career. In the UK, Tony Benn has been a revered figurehead of the left of left, of the socialist movement, of the people who voted Labour when it still meant something alternative to Conservative. Regardless of political orientation, Benn commanded respect from the entire political spectrum, and his inspiring intellect and humour are unembellished and plainly shown through Kite’s documentary.
Whilst primarily being a paean to Benn, Will and Testament is also a trajectory of the UK’s political past, taking us through the effects of the Second World War, the advent of nuclear weaponry, to the post-war improvement of society through the establishment of the welfare state and the NHS. Black and white photos and film footage sweep us through a somewhat nostalgic view of the past, right up to the dissatisfaction of many in the present. The miners’ strike, Thatcher, the embracing of capitalism and the death of old Labour are presented to us in the form of precursors to our current political disquiet. Even for those who do not support Tony Benn’s politics, Will and Testament is an undeniably level-headed and entirely human portrayal of a man, who at the very least said what he meant and meant what he said, doing his best to stick by principles he believed in.
Although dripping with socialist sentimentality, Kite has produced a beautifully poignant interpretation of a controversial and divisive figure in Britain’s history, reminding us that the left has lost a principled figurehead, and the world has lost a man of character and intellect. If anything, the film is an encouraging message to those who aspire to political greatness: Tony Benn’s dedication to politics is indeed an inspiring legacy and one that shall not be forgotten in a hurry.
Will and Testament is released in cinemas nationwide on 3rd October 2014.
Watch the trailer for Will and Testament here: