Innovative camera work, gripping story make this WWI movie memorable
From trip wires to crashing planes and artillery shells to snipers, “1917” kept up the intensity throughout the whole run time of the movie. Directed by Samuel Mendes, the movie can be described as one word: intense.
From the very beginning to the very end, “1917” kept me on the edge of my seat and waiting. I was waiting for nothing in particular, but there was always the constant sense that something unexpected and dangerous was just around every turn.
“1917” is based on a true story set in the middle of World War I. The location being northern France.
The film follows two soldiers in the British army, Lance Corporal Schofield (played by George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), as they set across no man’s land and enemy lines to deliver an extremely crucial message to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch).
This attempt to notify the allied commander is in hopes of trying to prevent Colonel Mackenzie from sending his battalion into a killing field of German artillery and bullets. LCpl. Blake’s older brother is also in that battalion, which makes the need to reach the far-off British battalion even more important.
The most prominent aspect of the movie is how the camera follows every single step that Schofield and Blake take on their journey. This “one-shot” take is tremendously unique and allows the viewer to stick with the starring duo through their perils and keeps them on the same level with the soldiers.
While the camera does appear to be taking one single, unbreakable shot, there are moments where the movie goes dark or the angle allows for a scene to end without seeming to break the flow of the camera. However, this is done seamlessly and is hardly noticeable. The immersion that this camera style provides is remarkable and raised the bar for single-shot scenes in movies to come.
While “1917” maintains a tense atmosphere and amazing visuals all over, it does have a couple of downsides.
First, the awesome one-shot effect from the camera somewhat overshadows the plot of the movie and seems to just be a way to show off the techniques used in the film rather than the world of the movie itself.
Second, unfortunately for the big battle enthusiasts out there, “1917” does not have any of the large engagements that defined World War I. There are moments of intense action which offset this to some degree, but the lack of the first tanks and heavy artillery use really lowered the scope of the movie.
To that point, however, the scope was meant to be solely focused on the story of the two soldiers and their mission, rather than the war as a whole.
“1917” combines amazing visuals with gripping scenes of intense action and courage shown by the British soldiers. The amount of work put into every scene and the flow of the movie make it one of a kind. It even shows the differences between the unkempt muddy British trenches and the well-fortified German trenches that are not normally seen.
If you do not mind a slow-burn movie set in World War I with a unique story and style, then “1917” is a great choice.