1917 | Movie Review - Elle May

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Thursday, 6 February 2020

1917 | Movie Review


Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Run time: 1hr 59mins

I'm not one to talk about war or even get into debates over it as it only causes arguments but one thing I do talk about when it comes to war is war movies. Ever since I was younger I would sit with my grandad and my sister and watch war movies and murder investigation shows, I kind of think this is why I and my sister love them so much which makes me feel happy as it keeps him alive in our memories in more ways than one. The reason I'm bringing this up is that James and I went to see the movie 1917 recently, as I sat watching it I couldn't help but think how much my grandad would appreciate the movie and wonderfully it was put together. On that note, I want to talk about how a simplistic script turned into a beautifully executed movie, from the get-go it had an easy to understand plot which took us on a journey we could personally experience thanks to the one-shot method the director used.

Some of my favourite war movies include The Pianist, Dunkirk. Hacksaw Ridge, War Horse, Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, Enemy at the Gates as well as the best war tv shows Band of Brothers and The Pacific (I know someone who made some of the props for the set of it) When I was ill back in 2016 James and I sat and rewatched them both and no matter how many times I've seen them I'm always left in Awe at how wonderfully well they were shot and put together which is what I was hoping to see from 1917 and I wasn't disappointed. Sam Mendes who has directed films such as American Beauty, Skyfall, Spectre and The Kite Runner (which is also a wonderful book) along with Krysty Wilson-Cairns put together an intense and brilliantly sculpted movie that made me feel immersed the whole time.


There has been a lot of talk about 1917 due to how the movie has been shot with the one-shot (which technically was done in several long shots) as well as how it will depict World War. I too was interested in this especially because a lot of war movies mostly focus on WW2 and it gets a little repetitive to be honest. If you're looking for a war movie that is heavy on dialogue this isn't the movie for you, the relationship between the two main characters called Tom (played by Dean-Charles Chapman) and William (played by George MacKay) undertaking a mission to get a message to Colonel Mackenzie of the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment in time is something that doesn't need much discussion but more action. Obviously faced with such a task can be a stressful one especially when only two soldiers are making their way to the destination given but it does make sense, the fewer people the faster they will be and the less they have to worry about others trying to hide from the enemy. The movie is made all the more personal as Tom Blake's brother is in the Devonshire Regiment waiting to attack and if they don't get that message across in time there is a huge chance he and many men will end up dead.


Due to the pace of the movie, there is a lot we learn about William Schofield and Tom Blake it's clear they're good friends and have their mind on the task. The camera shots help put us in their shoes like we are going on that journey with them, the camera angels put you upright and center to their mission. William and Tom work well together and their accents make it feel that much more realistic, they help each other in different ways whilst both trying to put on a brave face. I was more drawn to William's character than Tom's even though he was tasked with the mission in the first place, this is probably because he seemed more closed off and scared and you could tell that his mind was in overdrive with every second of the movie. 


Personally, 1917 stood out for me, not because of the one-shot effect but more so the impossible task these guys faced, they had every chance of something going wrong rather than everything going right and even through fear and doubt they still managed to work well as a team together. Although background scenes would catch my eye I was always focused on the two soldiers and what they would do next or end up, Medes has done a great job in being able to keep the attention of the audience by bringing us closer to the action. At times it becomes intense and the music drowns out all my other thoughts, I could only focus on what was happening at that moment rather than thinking about what would happen and trying to take a guess.


Each scene came to life with the clever cinematography with backdrops that were convincing enough to believe these scenes could have happened in real life, my favourite shots throughout the movie would have to be the ones shot at night they made the movie have a low tone about them and were able to make me hold my breath in the hopes that nothing bad would come out from the darkness making me feel uneasy. 1917 flows really well especially because they never stop and concentrate on any other characters but William and Tom, they're the ones the movie has made us concentrate on even if there are some big names these characters come across throughout the movie. I highly recommend 1917, I would love to go see it again at some point and although it's not a true story it's one that stands out amoungst other war films I have watched before. 


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