‘1917’ is an epic war film directed by Sam Mendes. The plot revolves around 2 British soldiers who go on a desperate mission to call off a British attack on the German line, after it is revealed to be a trap, set during WW1.
In many ways this film reminded me of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’. Despite being about different wars and different locations ‘1917’ had that same level of tension as well as being underpinned by a keen sense of futility, as it seems almost impossible the 2 soldiers will make it there in time to stop the advance.
‘1917’ shows the horrors of war and really plays them up to great effect, we see this when Schofield (George MacKay), meets Lauri (Claire Duburcq), a woman who is living in a bombed-out hovel with a baby that is not hers. The thing that makes this scene so tense is that if the baby doesn’t get milk it will die, fortunately Schofield has some, but it makes you think if he hadn’t come along that Baby would have died and there is nothing Lauri could have done about it.
Another ballsy thing this film does that I think makes it worthy of praise is the decision to kill off one of its main characters early and with very little warning. The 2 soldiers who venture out are Schofield and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), but Blake just gets killed seemingly out of nowhere very early into the film. There is a bit in the film where both men are running through a collapsing German trench but emerge okay, at this point it seems as though ‘1917’ will flirt with the idea of these men dying, but it won’t actually go there. Then mere moments later a German Plane crashes and the pilot stabs Blake while Schofield has his back turned. It is that quick. There is no fanfare when Blake dies, no him soldiering on for a few more scenes, or a heroic self-sacrifice; he just dies very quickly in Schofield’s arms- this sets the tone for the film.
My one complaint about this film, the thing that stops me giving it a perfect score, is the fact that it wastes some of its larger cast. Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch are all in this film, but their parts are so small it makes you wonder why they were even cast at all. I think it would have been better if these actors were either given more to do, a la Tom Hardy in ‘Dunkirk’, or if they were played by unknown actors as seeing these big names pop-up for what feels like glorified cameos feels distracting.
Overall, a fantastic war film that doesn’t pull any punches, it is clear to see why this is up for Best Picture at the Oscars. Mostly Marvelous.
Ballsy Shocking Decisions In Storytelling.
A Sense Of Dread And Futility.
An Ever-Present Ticking Clock.
Wastes Some Of It’s Bigger Stars.
Reviewed By Luke