Title – 1917 (2019)
Director – Sam Mendes (American Beauty)
Cast – George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch
Plot – British soldiers Lance Corporal Blake (Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (MacKay) must traverse dangerous enemy territory in the midst of World War 1, to pass on a message to a collection of fellow soldiers who are unknowingly on their way to a dangerous trap.
“If you fail, it will be a massacre”
Review by Eddie on 10/01/2020
If there was some form of MVP award for cinematic achievements that had taken place over the last 12 months, I’m positive that many would agree a worthy winner of one such award would be legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose work here alongside director Sam Mendes on 1917 is some of the most technically marvelous and creative that you’re ever likely to see in the movie making medium.
Sharing more in common with fellow war set thriller Dunkirk than more traditional war films such as Hacksaw Ridge or Saving Private Ryan, 1917 sees Mendes and his team of behind the scenes superstars and on-song actors unleash a rather simplistic men on a mission type race against time pulse-racer, that becomes something truly special thanks to the craftsmanship on show that is of the highest order you’d ever hope to see.
Much fuss has been made already before 1917 was ever released concerning it’s one shot like execution, a magic trick of sorts that ensures viewers are gripped from the moment we join Dean-Charles Chapman’s and George MacKay’s British Lance Corporal in the muddy and body filled trenches of Europe in World War 1, as they are tasked with going behind enemy lines to deliver a life changing message to a certain death bound battalion of English soldiers.
It’s a directional and design choice that might on paper seem gimmicky or even distracting in theory, but Mendes and Deakins employ it in such a way in 1917 that is captivating without ever being in any way, shape or form a decision that feels cocky or unwarranted.
There are many moments throughout this cinematic marvel where your jaw will lay a gasp at what you have just witnessed, a frantic run across a battle field or foot race through a German occupied broken cityscape just some such occurrences, but it’s never pulled off in a way that takes us out of the plight of the two Lance Corporals as they face a seemingly insurmountable task.
As the two likable central figures, rising stars Chapman and MacKay both excel in what are both likely to be star making turns and their respective performances are the unsung heroes of the piece that would’ve been a piece of creative genius but nothing more had these two performers not been able to bring Mendes heartfelt and deceptively emotive tale to life through their important roles.
They are at the end of the day both impressive cogs in a feature filled with some of the modern era’s finest cinematic construction, a crowning achievement for a director and his cinematographer who have both enhanced their already glowing reputations with this unforgettable exercise.
Final Say –
A war set thriller that is alive with energy, heart and technical wizardry, 1917 is a mind-blowingly good cinematic creation that will be a deserving Oscar king should the cards fall that way on Hollywood’s night of nights. A must watch on the biggest screen available to your viewing needs.
5 milk filled canteens out of 5