He was twenty-five when he died." ("Wilfred Own," 2005)
One figure, however, besides the more aristocratic poets, who is entirely fictional is a working class man named Billy Prior, a who had risen through the ranks to become an officer, but is now mute. This character is used, not for historical accuracy, but as a symbolic state of the working class during this period, and as a contrast to the highly articulate, and also upper-class experiences of Sassoon and Owen. The film thus transposes reality, when it is visually or verbally suitable for conveying its theme, with occasionally flights of fictional 'poetic' reality. In other words, it would have been dishonest to only show the experience of psychotherapist, poets, and the upper classes of a war that was fought by large numbers of ordinary working class men, many of whom became officers like Prior, as more of the aristocratic 'officer class' went mad or were killed.
When assessing the film's historical accuracy, thus one must say it is both highly accurate on a technical and an emotional or thematic level, with occasional flights of justified fiction that tell a cinematic 'truth.' As the film goes on, the castle of the aristocracy where the men are stranded becomes increasingly symbolic of the bankrupt ideology of an England, that let its men die, and will cause the death of one of the main characters. The quoted wartime poetry seems 'poetically' fitting but is an actual, real reference to the poets who experienced the fate depicted in the film, even though in reality it is unlikely that the psychoanalyst would read as much poetry as he does over the course of the film, during his daily rounds.
Fictional and representative figures such as Prior are used to give added ideological heft to the overall message of the film, even if the audience knows they are fictional. And always, it is important to note that although Prior may be fictional, his affliction of muteness was common and it is not necessarily a cinematic creation, at least according to Dr. Rivers. Also according to Dr. Rivers, this complaint was more common amongst ordinary soldiers, rather than officers -- another poetic reality, stressing the voicelessness of ordinary men, even men such as Prior who had successful subverted some of the assumptions assigned to the lower classes.
Finally, the film is also realistic in its portrayal of common psychological techniques during the era. At one point, Dr. Rivers visits a London hospital to observe electroshock therapy to cure muteness. However, this true event is also transposed against River's own fictional musings, words cannot really be established with outside documentation.
Not every reviewer was enamored of the film, as it has such a clear ideological message. "Another retelling of the great left wing myth to come out of the Great War: that it was all the generals' fault," wrote James Boman. "The real lie is the leftist promise that all the hard things in the world -- whether fighting wars or earning a living or raising your children -- can be avoided if you design a political system cleverly enough. In fact, the war was a serious business. It was fought for the leadership of Europe and the world, and both Europe and the world would be vastly different places today if the Germans had won it." (Boman, 1997) however, whether one agrees or disagrees with its historical assessment, the film's accuracy in terms of the literature and incidents it cites, gives it an ideological weight, and its advocated view has the clarity of an essay, with carefully constructed arguments for the admittedly biased, but always reasoned side it presents.
Bowman, James. "Behind the Lines: Regeneration." Film review. Directed by Gillies Mackinnon from a screenplay by Allan Scott and based on the novel by Pat Barker. 1997