When I got the invite first for 1917, I really just assumed I would ignore it. I try not to watch trailers, I try to avoid spoilers and go out of my way to research movies before I watch them. All I knew was that this was a war movie?
A war movie? In my 2019?! We just had Midway which was WWII (and I have not seen). I skipped one, why not skip this one as well? How can you wow me war movies?
And then a friend knocked some sense into me. He told me that this movie was done in real time. With the illusion of one continuous shout.
Hold my green apple Smirnoff ice, I’ve GOT to see this on the big screen.
Words cannot describe the fear the audience will experience.
Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is awoken one afternoon with urgent orders that General Erinmore (Colin Firth) needs him and one other for an urgent mission, time is of the essence. He chooses his buddy Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay), and they hope it is just a supply run mission to head back and bring more food for the troops. They are quite hungry.
Unfortunately, it is a lot more urgent than that. There is another British division in the woods outside of a nearby French village. They are planning on attacking the German troops nearby at dawn, who are supposedly retreating, but the intel has changed. It is a trap. And Blake has an older brother in charge over there, another incentive to get there in time.
Now these two men have to travel through trenches, across no man’s land, hope that the German’s in their area did retreat, then travel several miles over land and hopefully get to the troops before it is too late and 1,600 men get killed.
Two men, one note, no cups.
Roger Deakins is god and we are just living in his well defined cinematographic world.
Breath taking. Wonderful. Immersive. It is hard to explain. If any film had to talk about the dangers and realities of World War I, this is probably the film we need. Our delivery boys are not bad ass guys who take their revolvers and head shot Nazis left and right running down a field. Every potential threat is just that, a threat, and potentially the end of their journey.
I never can tell if they will make it out of their current predicament, and if so, will they be fully in tact along the way.
The smaller roles given to big names help give some gravitas to their situation. Also, so do the explosions, and the hundreds of extras, and the miles and miles of real sets built, and the natural lighting.
An ending scene where a runner is going across the battlefield, while bombs are going off and explosions is one of my favorite and tense scenes of 2019. Along with a nighttime scene, running through the village with fire, flares, and German soldiers. It is hard to pick which scene feels more intense, honestly, and that is a good problem to have.
I loved 1917, and it is something that should be discussed for years to come on how to just do every little thing right with a movie.