France, 1915, the front line. A company of British soldiers, engaged in a hellish battle, struggle through gas clouds and find a forward German trench, which they capture. The horror of the war that surrounds them recedes as an even darker terror, lurking inside the trench, gradually drives them all to the edge of fear and insanity.
This was a tough shoot. A winter in Prague is challenging enough to shoot a trench warfare film in, but to add to the grim, desperate nature of the script ,the director (Michael Bassett) decided to shoot most of the film in heavy rain. We were up to our knees in mud, blood, live rats and "corpses" with sixty thousand litres of water pouring down on us every day, for seven weeks, often in minus conditions.
To keep up morale and to bring us together as a company of soldiers, we built a hut out of unused timber from the trenches -- it became an obsession and grew into the defining reason to get up in the morning! We rested in there, cooked , drank and kept warm by wood-burning stoves, played music. Basically we kept each other sane. The Hut meant everything to us -- it was our "bridge over the river Kwai." On the final night of the shoot we doused it in gallons of petrol and torched it.
To really comprehend what life was like in the trenches is impossible, with the threat of death hanging over you day in, day out; but what we all experienced was some of the physical hardship, and I think that made all of us respectful of the men who endured four years of that kind of inhuman existence. -- Andy Serkis, November 2002