Sam Mendes’ World War I flick “1917” was released in the U.S. this past week and I had the pleasure of viewing it in the theater. This is the only movie I’ve been looking forward to since I heard about its production. The movie is filmed and edited in a way that it plays on the screen as one continuous shot the entire way through. This is not typical for war movies or any type of movie for that matter. There are a few others that I’m aware of, but none that have gained as much widespread recognition as this project.
From a technical standpoint, this movie knocks it out of the park. Just thinking about the meticulous way the crew would have had to plan each and every second of time in order to capture the continuous feel stresses me out. I can’t imagine how much pressure was put on each and every actor and crew member every single day. All of their work was worth it, as the effect really grounds the audience in the point of view of the characters and makes for a truly different perspective.
Direction aside, the script is probably my favorite aspect of this film. Going into this movie, I did not expect it to pack as much of an emotional punch as it did for me. Any war movie typically gets to me as I have multiple relatives that have served in the armed forces. However, the simplicity of the message that Mendes tells through this movie is very deep and effective.
The performances from the main cast members help add to this story as well. Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay give fantastic performances in this film and deliver great levels of emotion throughout the span of the film. Both of the actors deliver their lines with heart and meaning.
There is one scene, however, that stands out in terms of outstanding acting. I won’t spoil anything, but as it is in war tragedy strikes and these two characters have a long scene together where not a lot is said verbally, but a lot is said in the way the actors carry themselves and show emotion on their faces.
My one complaint is that I wish there were a tad more character development for the two main characters. Chaplin and MacKay did a phenomenal job of making me feel like I was in their shoes and kept me on the edge of my seat, but the few scenes I was supposed to feel especially connected to them did fall a bit more flat for me than I feel was intended.
The cinematography is also something to behold and Roger Deakins was behind that aspect of the film. He won his first Oscar for cinematography for his work on “Blade Runner 2049” (2017), and he definitely deserves the win again for his work on “1917.” Many of the shots will stick with me for quite sometime in terms of their looks and beauty. There is one shot in particular with the main character running through a battlefield at night as fire in the ruins surrounding him light up the sky. It’s something that is simple and beautiful in a world of chaos on the screen.
This is a war story, yes, but at its center is a message of the importance of family and what one will endure to be with those they love. If you have the means, go see this in the theater. Watching a simple human story be told through an immersive and harrowing landscape is truly a sight to behold. It’s quite an experience and one I will soon revisit.
“1917” is nominated for ten Academy Awards this year including Best Picture. I will not be surprised if it takes home that award, either. It truly is a masterclass in filmmaking and a beautiful movie overall. I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys war films or dramatic movies of any kind. It really is fantastic and will likely remain one of my favorite war movies of all-time.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.