1917 Movie Review – Touching Movie Well Made
My Rating – 4 out of 5
Plot Summary – 1917
Sam Mendes boasts an awesome repertoire of movies – Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition, Spectre, Skyfall and now adds the much awarded 1917, a story based during the First World War.
In the battlefields of Northern France, on 6th April 1917, two young British Lance Corporals – Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), set out to reach and cross enemy territory, to deliver a message to their comrades in the advancing line.
The Germans have apparently gone on retreat, and the British frontline plans to mount an all-out attack, but they are not aware that it is a ploy by the Germans as they lie in wait for the unsuspecting British Army. The two soldiers, tasked with carrying the message, must reach before the attack begins or else, the British Regiment faces total annihilation! Against such a backdrop, the intensity of the mission given to the soldiers increases manifold, and the film really gallops away without once loosening its grip on the audience.
The Regiment also has Lt. Joseph Blake, who is Lance Corporal Blake’s elder brother, thus enhancing the stakes for the younger Blake to reach on time. The movie is shot like a single continuous shot, whether be at ground level or a Bird’s Eye view, giving the audience a thoroughly immersive view. It also gives the feeling to the viewer that he / she is right there with the soldiers on their journey across massacred battlefields, in hope of fulfilling their mission.
The soldiers’ journey through the town of Ecoust, in the night, is magnificently shot, dark, foreboding and only lit up by explosions or fires, giving the entire sequence the image of hell! The suspense is taut, total silence broken by a sudden gunshot and the carnage of battle are all poignantly captured. The eeriness of a ghost town, long abandoned by its residents in the face of a ruthless invasion, feels spooky and is by far one of the best scenes seen on screen in 2020.
One moves along with the director’s vision, immersive, saddening but finally victorious at the triumph of human indomitability, but one can’t help but rail at the futility of war. Entire generations that were wiped out before they even crossed their teens properly. Benedict Cumberbatch has a small cameo as Colonel Mackenzie, as does Colin Firth but this is Sam Mendes’ movie, start to end. The music adds its own gravitas to the tone of the movie and though there isn’t much of gory imagery of the actual war, there is enough to once again highlight the futility of war.
Conclusion – 1917 Movie Review
Beautiful cinematography, haunting music and a thrilling screenplay add to the magic that is 1917. Since there have been a countless number of movies made about the two World Wars, one more would not have been too noticeable. But this is where Sam Mendes chose the plot/story differently, it’s not so much about the War, it’s about the lives stolen from their families, lives that were not yet ready to legally drink alcohol, were shooting and being shot to death by the hundreds.
Though it still depicts the much cliched pointlessness of war, the approach is a warm breeze of poignancy in the frozen lights of megalomania. A must watch for War Movie fans, but for the students of Cinema, it’s a terrific lesson!!