Released on December 4th, 2019. 1917 takes the audience on a horrific and thrilling journey as the movie follows Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Blake(Dean-Charles Chapman) on their mission to prevent a massacre in the midst of a war ravaged France. Sam Mendes (director and writer) focused on the realistic depiction of World War I and intense action. All this while appearing to be a single take. From the beginning where we meet our protagonists, to the end. The film never seems to cut as the camera moves fluidly through claustrophobic trenches to expansive ruins.
Though some may consider the “single take” as distracting at worst and gimmicky at best, that was not the case with 1917. As the story and action seem to take front and center with the technicalities of the camera work never interfering with the film. The tracking shots allow the audience to feel more in touch with the character and adds to the atmosphere. Close-ups when characters are in a tight spot, adding to that claustrophobic feel, low to the ground and shaky movements of the frame adds tension to the protagonists crawling across No Man’s Land, are just a few moments of how the cinematography is great even with the restrictions placed upon the film.
What does a technically impressive movie achieve if it doesn’t tell a good story? Sam Mendes based the story off his grandfather’s experiences in WWI. The story had little spoken lines. The set up and conclusion was very short, with each happening at the first and last five minutes of the film. It is a simple story with no flair or exaggeration and that is all the movie needed, it doesn’t need a stirring drama because the story is about the horrors of war, not its glory
As for an action thriller, 1917 does an amazing job at making the audience sitting on the edge of their seats as the action on screen was as intense as can be. The uncut nature of the film prevents interruptions in the action. The scene will show the action to an uncomfortable length as the film shows the audience the gritty reality of war. Moments of calm are welcoming but also tense as the audience expects it to be interrupted at any moment.
To wrap up, 1917 is a great movie with a great concept. The tightly choreographed and simple to grasp but powerful story makes the film a great watch for anyone interested in historical fiction and tight action thrillers. Though the uncut style of the film may seem gimmicky to some, the rest of film makes up for it in a gritty and atmospheric way.