1917 (2019)

1917 poster 2019 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Visually appealing and tense

Basic story is sometimes caught up in the visuals instead of letting it explore

Movie Info

Movie Name: 1917

Studio: Amblin Partners

Genre(s): War/Drama

Release Date(s): December 4, 2019 (Premiere)/December 25, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

1917 crossing dean charles chapman george mackay

There’s still time to turn this into a wacky buddy movie with DJ Qualls

Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Will Schofield (George MacKay) have been given a life or death assignment in the height of the Great War.  A platoon which includes Blake’s brother Joseph Blake (Richard Madden) is walking into a German trap and getting word to call off the offensive push means Blake and Schofield must cross a warzone undetected to reach their allies in time.  The danger is growing and time is running short…and the Front looms in front of them.

Written and directed by Sam Mendes (with additional scripting by Krysty Wilson-Cairns), 1917 is a war drama.  The film was released to critical acclaim and won Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Cinematography with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Editing.

1917 movie city scene

It needs some urban renewal, but it’s an up-and-coming neighborhood

War films are tricky for me.  Movies that are more about the idea and struggles of war are generally more interesting to me (like The Thin Red Line or Apocalypse Now) while films like Saving Private Ryan which display a bunch of fighting are generally less interesting no matter how well done they are.  1917 falls kind of in the middle of the movie due to the stylization of the film.

The movie look is core to the film.  The film is shot as a continuous, real-time event.  The characters set-out and cross the Front with the camera following and circling around them in ways I do question how the filmmakers pulled off.  It isn’t a true continuous film because there are cuts built in to the shooting and a scene which has the character knocked out for an undisclosed time or an item/darkness passing the camera screen which allows a transition, but for the most part, you won’t notice it unless you are looking for it.  It reminds me a lot of the long beach scene in 2007’s Atonement.

1917 movie river scene flowers george mackay

This is a pretty crappy day

The movie is not based on any real event unlike a lot of war movies which means in a way it doesn’t really fictionalize events (which I prefer).  When you are presenting a specific battle or a war hero, the films always seem to take liberties with the characters and story…here that doesn’t happen since it is about the struggles of war.  I don’t know watching the film if the timing works out very well.  The distance that characters have to travel seems far greater than what we were shown (even if they rode in a car for a bit…and that is a short bit).  The tension is there, but it feels like it doesn’t work out as stated in the film’s set-up.

The cast is good.  Both George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman seem like “average guys” like many of the young people who went to war at that time.  If they had cast big name celebrities for the film, it would become about them…both actors have demonstrated acting abilities in the past but aren’t necessarily recognizable yet, so it works for the film.  In fact, the celebrities that do appear in the movie like Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Richard Madden, and Andrew Scott are a bit distracting…I almost would have preferred all no-name actors in the roles.

1917 george mackay running front line

You’re running the wrong way!!!

1917 is an interesting take on a war movie.  It has a strange pacing due to the shooting style, but it also can use that style to ratchet up the suspense.  I feel that movie does do some introspection, but it could have gone a bit farther since a lot of the film was spent with the characters discussing their situations.  In that sense, the movie gets a bit too wrapped up in the shooting style to think about the insanity of the mission and explore what their assignment means.  I think movies like Dunkirk and 1917 are potentially the future of war films and show that a war film doesn’t always have to be about burly men with guns storming hills…war isn’t necessarily definable, and 1917 is a film that shows that.

Related Links:

The 92nd Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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