1917 (2019): A One-Shot Wonder

Directed By Sam Mendes

Cast: George McKay, Dean Charles Chapman, Daniel Mays, Colin Firth.

Plot Summary: Two soldiers are assigned a task to race against the clock where they must sneak through enemy territory in order to deliver a message that will stop an attack on 1,600 men in a deadly trap set by the Germans.

1917 is an absolute marvel to behold, the one shot movie really plays out as an experience in the theater where you feel as if you are a part of the action, following these soldiers as they venture into unknown territory. You feel every drop of tension and fear as they crawl and crouch their way over No Man’s Land, when they are sneaking through the trenches behind enemy lines and when they are being shot at by the enemy. One thing that really works is the enemy being largely unseen for a large part of the chase, not seeing them is the worst part, they could be around every corner!

The chemistry between Lance Corporal’s Blake and Schofield is incredible, they play off each other well and get some banter in where you get a breather from the feeling of dread for what these characters may face on their journey. The story follows them for a very large portion of its run time. There is almost always one of them on screen because of the nature of the film being in one continuous shot. Colin Firth as General Erinmore doesn’t do much for me, although he is only in the film for 5 minutes right at the beginning.

The technical aspects of this film are mindbogglingly hard to get to grips with. The film took six months to prepare for thanks to meticulously measuring out sets to the actors walking speeds so scenes could start and end in the right places and trenches could be dug around the time it takes. The film also uses hidden cuts to give the illusion of a singular shot from open to close, which adds to the awe you feel as the cinematography by Roger Deakins washes over the screen. You can never place these cuts, except for one point about two-thirds of the way through where the screen goes black for a few moments.

Overall, the film leverages an amazing technical achievement, great cinematography from Oscar winner Roger Deakins, good lead actors in George McKay and Dean Charles Chapman and stellar use of tension.

Rating: 9/10 – worth seeing on the big screen.

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