A couple of British World War I soldiers stationed in France have themselves a harrowing time in 1917, a war action/drama from Director Sam Mendes that amounts to one of 2019’s greatest technological achievements in cinema. It’s also one of the past year’s best movies. Mendes, along with his special effects team, editing crew and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins (an Oscar winner for Blade Runner 2049), designed the film to look like one continuous “real time” shot. They do a seamless job, to the point where you stop looking for the places where edits might be happening and you just take the whole thing in. The story never suffers in favor of the filmmaking stunt. Lance Corporals Schofield and Blake (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) are seen napping at the beginning of the movie. Blake is ordered to wake up and report to command and takes Schofield along with him. The two pals figure they have some sort of nothing assignment coming their way involving food or mail delivery. Not long after, in a plot that owes a little to Saving Private Ryan, Schofield and Blake get their unusual assignment: go beyond a recently abandoned German front line and reach the next British battalion before they mistakenly advance into a trap set by the enemy. It’s up to them to save the lives of 1,600 soldiers, one of them being Blake’s older brother. The movie is set in motion and never really stops. Schofield and Blake venture out into a body-riddled, fly-infested battlefield with very little time to spare. Deakins’ camera follows them as if you were a third party along for the mission. This results in a completely immersive experience.

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