A Cinematic and Human Masterpiece, 1917


Source: thehollywoodnews.com

On December 25th, the film 1917 was released and is now deemed one of the best war movies ever made.  The film’s director, Sam Mendes, pulls the audience into a tear-jerking, suspenseful, and wholly human journey of two soldiers during the First World War.

The foundation of this film was based on Mendes’s grandfather, a WWI veteran, and one of his many inspiring stories of himself as a 17-year-old boy serving as a messenger of the English calvary in No Man’s Land.  This film encompasses the nearly impossible mission of two British soldiers, Lance Corporal Schofield and Lance Corporal Blake, of delivering a message across enemy territory to save 1,600 soldiers, including Blake’s brother.  

Mendes quite literally plunges his audience into trenches, rivers, destroyed towns, and No Man’s Land through his bold cinematic choice of making a one-shot film.  The camera never leaves our two soldiers in-action, making the audience take every step and every breath with these two men. As a result, viewers are captivated by a heart-warming comradery and tested to their limits with the gruesome fears of war.  

Not only does the one-shot nature of this film allow for a fully-engrossed cinematic journey, but a vast encounter of the many battlefields of war.  The film included astonishing landscapes organized and created by 1917’s accomplished art department and Oscar-winning cinematographer, Roger Deakins.  From the mud-bath and desolate No Man’s Land to the crippling and barren town of Écoust-Saint-Mein, 1917 captures the truth behind war’s complete destructive reign.  Accompanying these visually stunning and true to-the-time sets was Thomas Newman’s unbelievable soundtrack.  As the camera follows Scholfield and Blake through their physical and emotional tribulations, Newman’s ability to capture the deep humanity in the film’s characters and invoke constant grueling suspense is a testament to this film’s success.  

Mendes’s choice in casting respectively new actors, George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, is an important factor in this film’s many achievements.  The audience does not arrive at the movie with much personal connection to the actors themselves, but upon watching the film, audience members are allowed to understand how both Schofield and Blake were just two out of millions of soldiers faced with one of life’s ultimate tests.  Alongside these main actors were four cameos of much critical-acclaim including Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Richard Madden. These actors added another level to the deep characterization this film displayed.  

War movies have been an interest of mine for quite some time.  From Dunkirk to Testament of Youth, I thought I was tested to the limits in experiencing a war film that captivated me to the fullest stretch.  However, after watching 1917, I can confidently state that this film is not only the best war film I have seen but the best film I have ever watched.  Every aspect of Mendes’s and his team’s work stretched my emotions to their fullest capacity.  I found myself both jumping out of my seat and catching tears as I watched two young boys, around my age, battle an incomparable fight against war’s trials.  Not only were the horrors of war displayed, but war’s ability to spark hope, love, and perseverance in life’s nearly unendurable moments. I am grateful for the film’s ability to force me to endure the journey with Scholfield and Blake as I walked away with a sense of realism and gratitude that will cease to escape me.  I walked away with a sense of duty for my future to explore WWI’s truths and forever honor all those who have sacrificed themselves for the freedoms I enjoy today. 1917 was nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece.  

1917 is in cinemas today.