Don Reviews "1917"
From classics like “Platoon” and “Full Metal Jacket” to “Saving Private Ryan,” war films have fascinated moviegoers for many years. I honestly believe that in order for a war movie great, it has to be realistic, and going into “1917,” I was hoping this would be the case.
Sam Mendes (Jarhead) directs this film with George MacKay (Pride), Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Richard Madden (The Take), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) and Adrian Scarborough (Lyebird, Killing Eye). Taking place over a single day in the title year during World War I in France, two British privates named Blake (Chapman) and Schofield (MacKay) are sent on a mission while the German army is retreating across “No Man’s Land” to stop about 1,600 British troops from walking into a trap that could wipe all of them out after communications have gone down. Add to that the pressure that Blake’s brother is in the battalion, and they are off to stop the attack.
Chapman and MacKay do an incredible job here as the soldiers in battle whose bond has made them brothers. There are other actors here like Firth and Cumberbatch, but they are only in the film for a few minutes, as this is about Blake and Schofield. Mendes shoots this film to give the feel that it is one continuous shot in order to give the audience the feeling that they are on the mission right along with the duo. There is a break in the action about two-thirds of the way where the screen goes black and goes back again it finishes the rest of the movie as if it was in that same take. This is one of the most innovative films I have ever seen visually, especially since it avoided the “shaky cam” effect to get its realism across.
The sets in “1917” added to the effect even more and simply blew me away. The way they went through the trenches and “No Man’s Land” and everywhere in between and made it all fit together was beyond me. The story really made the just under two hour run time go nicely and does not sugar coat the darkness of war at all, pulling no punches with its violence and realism and is rated “R” for a reason. One last thing I want to give a shout out to is the animal trainers, who were able to have all different animals from rats to birds to horses and more show up and “play their part” at the right moment was incredible. I will most definitely recommend this film as my coveted full price in the theaters recommendation, and it WILL make my top 10 films of the year, if not high on that list!!!