I am not one for war movies, especially recent ones. The most recent one I saw in the theaters was Midway, which was one of the worst movies I saw last year, so while I had high hopes for 1917, I was a little nervous about seeing this. I shouldn’t have worried about this movie because it’s one of the best movies, not just in recent memory but maybe I’ve ever seen. From the intensity of the cinematography to the battle against the clock, Sam Mendes’ latest project, fresh off of its Golden Globe wins and now several Oscar nominations, 1917 is an outstanding piece of cinema.
The story follows two British soldiers, Lance Corporals Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay), during WWI. Blake and Schofield are on a mission to stop an attack against a German front because while it seems like German is retreating, they have been preparing for this attack for a long while. They have a very limited window of opportunity to ensure all of the British soldiers will be safe, but what Blake and Schofield soon find out is that every second counts. To make matters worse, Blake has a brother who is set to lead the attack where the Germans are waiting for them.
The biggest thing for me was the way it was shot was something that needs to be seen in theaters on the biggest screen possible. It was shot in a way that made it appear to be one giant shot, instead of cutting to have many different shot angles. What this did for me was that it immersed me into the world of 1917, it built the suspense of the movie because you saw what Blake and Schofield saw. The suspense of not knowing what was coming next really made you feel like you were beside the two.
I also really liked how they didn’t dramatize anything as far as the military was concerned. My biggest problem with Midway was that it tried to make it too much of a love story, instead of focusing on the rawness and brutality of war. 1917 had characters that had backstories, but it wasn’t made into the central plot of the story, it just added depth to the characters.
I can’t say this enough but see this movie in theaters if you want to truly appreciate what 1917 is all about. The camera work deserves to be seen on the big screen. In addition to the camera work, 1917 provides a deep look into trench warfare without having to rely on the dramatization of wartime.