It is hard to argue that Sam Mendes has created one of the best films that have hit theaters in a long, long time with the World War I drama 1917. The film follows two British soldiers as they march their way to a nearby battalion with an urgent message that could save 1600 lives. George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman played their parts expertly and carried the film. Of course, Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth did a fantastic job as well in their essential cameo roles.
1917 is one of those films that viewers need to go out of their way to see in theaters to truly appreciate the experience firsthand. I cannot recall a time where the entire theater was silent when the movie ended. 1917 ended so – for a lack of better terms – perfectly that the only thing you could do was sit there and reflect on what you just watched for the past two hours.
I’m not entirely sure if the film was split into two continuous shots or not, but it sure appeared to be that way. It felt as if the camera rarely stopped rolling from the opening scene to the end. Sam Mendes deserves all the credit for directing such a phenomenal film. Mendes went out of his way to create a one-of-a-kind viewing experience detailing the treacherous British and German trenches to a war-ravaged French country side to an entire town being set ablaze. Seeing the scenery and unique approach to cinematography on the big screen is worthy of the price of admission alone.
If this film was in fact done in two continuous shots, then even more props needs to be given to the entire cast from the billed leads to the countless supporting cast members. It cannot be understated the amount of preparation that had to go into this film as the sequence of events and action was flawless. Because of the style of film and storytelling, there wasn’t much dialogue in the film, but honestly, 1917 doesn’t need a lot of pointless dialogue. The main story telling in this film was done by the progression of the two main soldiers as they moved across the battlefield. Seeing the destruction of the land, destroyed buildings, dead cattle and even more dead bodies said more than any amount of speaking would have.
This also added to the suspense and overall dreary tone of the film. There were countless times during the duration of the film where the suspense and anxiety being played out on screen was almost too much to bear. Again, there wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue, but the actions spoke much louder than words and payed off beautifully. There really isn’t anything new in terms of what you have seen in a war film, but it’s the way Sam Mendes presents it that makes it feel different. Stylistically, there isn’t anything like 1917.
If I had to sum up 1917 in one word it would be brilliant. Bloody brilliant.