Published on November 26th, 2019 | by gareth0
World War I was called “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars” as the sheer number of nations and continents involved in the conflict as well as the tremendous loss of life; was thought to be so horrific that war would become a thing of the past.
As we know this did not happen as a generation later the world was once again at war with even great death and destruction to follow. However in “1917” we see the conflict from the viewpoint of a lowly Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) who along with his friend Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are tasked with delivering a message across enemy lines to warn advanced units to call of an attack due to an ambush being set by the Germans.
The duo are told that the enemy has pulled back and as such; the dreaded No Man’s Land between the opposing trenches are likely to be abandoned as well their approach to a town near their destination. With the phone lines down; the duo are the only option and they are at first shocked to learn that it would just the two of them.
As they make their way across a grim and corpse-laden battlefield, the audience as well as the two men get a look at the horrific conditions that combat took place under and how fallen individuals were left to decompose where they fell due to the entrenched and stagnant nature of Trench Warfare.
As complications mount, the two must face up to their greatest fears and challenges; driven by a sense of mission and purpose for a conflict they just want to see end so they can return home to their families.
Director Sam Mendes has crafted an Oscar Caliber film as it is gripping as it is breathtaking thanks to the amazing visuals. The contrast between the beauty of the landscape and the carnage of war has rarely been captured as well as it was in this film and the fact that Mendes had a hand in writing the story based on stories told by a relative really help to bring the full impact of the story home.
The film has some amazing sequences like sustained and extended shots where you wonder how Mendes was able to film scenes with so many things going on in one take as there is a scene near the start that looks as if it is an extended scene with no breaks or cutaways.
In the end the biggest selling point for the film is that it is a human drama at its core. While there is combat and action, they are not the focal points as much of the film centers around the young men and their conversations.
The film will stay with you after the credits roll and I consider “1917” to be one of the best films of 2019 and one not to be missed.
5 stars out of 5
Second Review by Joshua Aja
In the midst of World War I two young British soldiers are asked assigned the formidable task of crossing the no man’s land between the British and German trenches. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) are to deliver orders to 1,600 troops to stop chasing the retreating German forces they are pursuing. They have to stop because the Germans are not retreating but setting a new frontline and a trap. If the troops continue on they will be wiped out. While Schofield was chosen because he just happened to be sleeping next to Blake at the time, Blake was chosen because he is good at maps and more importantly one of the 1,600 doomed troops is his older brother, Lieutenant Blake (Richard Madden). With no other lines of communication the only chance to stop the massacre of these men is if these two can complete their task against overwhelming odds.
Director Sam Mendes (Skyfall, Jarhead) does something really interesting in this World War I picture. The film seems like one continuous shot. There might only be one clear time where there was a cut scene. It is beautifully shot and I was so impressed how the film just kept going along. The first third of the movie is also pretty intense and I was waiting for a moment to catch my breath but it just kept going. The whole tone of the film was set by this continuous shot and kept the pace moving.
The two main characters and their struggle to get to their final destination is a compelling story line, written by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Penny Dreadful). The large supporting cast, which includes Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, etc., also do well. There are some parts of the story that I wondered if they were necessary but in the larger picture are minor. The sound really aides to the overall intensity of the film and compliments the cinematograph very well. I this way this film reminds me a lot of the 2017 film Dunkirk. Just the build of the intensity and the use of sound to tell as much of the story as the dialog. The films are different in story and style of shooting but do have a similar feel. Which in my opinion is not a bad thing.
I really enjoyed this film and think it is worth the price of a ticket. I definitely will be seeing it again on the big screen. It is one of the better films I have seen this year. I like the fact that they somewhat of a chance with how they shot the film and how well it ended up on the screen. War films might not be for everyone but I certainly one I would recommend.
5 out of 5