Film review: 1917

Synopsis:

Two young British soldiers serving in World War I are given an impossible order: deliver a message, deep within enemy territory, to prevent an ambush and save the lives of thousands.

Our Review:

Not since Saving Private Ryan has there been a war movie which has come close to accurately depicting the horrors of combat and the life of a soldier – until now.

Many films have tried to mirror Steven Spielberg’s war epic, but most have failed to step out of its shadow. 1917 manages to cast aside that shadow with its unique depiction of the hell of World War I.

The unwavering and bloody depiction is a cinematic masterpiece due to the direction of Sam Mendes. Famous for his take on the Bond film Skyfall, Mendes and Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins crafted 1917 to look as though it was one continuous shot.

In actuality, the continuous shots are made up of a dozen set pieces which, strung together, appear as endless.

The result is simply mesmerising and allows the viewer to feel as though they’re not merely watching but are a part of the protagonist’s world, travelling with them as they navigate booby-trapped tunnels and blood-soaked trenches in France. 

The tight cinematic focus also allows 1917’s plot to move at breakneck speed as it doesn’t deviate into unnecessary subplots and is purely focused on two young lance corporals, Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay).

The duo is sent on a suicide mission and must race through enemy-occupied territory and across No man’s land to deliver a message that could prevent the deaths of thousands of British soldiers.

The film doesn’t dwell on the history or feelings of the protagonists or the diverse cast of military officials they meet along the way, played by stars Mark Strong, Richard Madden, Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth. These parts are blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos but do add to the overall film.

1917 does what few films can manage and puts its viewers right in the trenches and the soldiers’ boots, visually forcing them to endure the harsh reality of war. 1917 will remain with viewers long after the final (continuous) shot ends and will likely be nominated for a slew of awards due to its masterful cinematography and direction.

1917 opens in cinemas 9 January 2020.

Final rating: 5/5

Classification:

M15+

Director:

Sam Mendes

Cast:

George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Richard Madden, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth.

If you like this, try:

Saving Private Ryan, Letters from Iwo Jima, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, The Hurt Locker, Dunkirk,

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