George MacKay as Schofield
Dean-Charles Chapman as Blake
Andrew Scott as Lieutenant Leslie
Benedict Cumberbatch as MacKenzie
Richard Madden as Lieutenant Blake
Adrian Scarborough as Major Hepburn
Directed by Sam Mendes
At the height of World War II, on the French war front, Lance-Cape Blake and Schofield (Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay) are sent on an urgent mission behind enemy lines to deliver a message to a British battalion ready to attack the retreating Germans. They must be warned that they are entering an ambush in which thousands can die if the attack is not stopped.
There is a long and long tradition of war movies that captures some of the greatest battles in history; however, apparently few of them, at least not in recent memory, were defined during World War I versus other wars. Peter Jackson's 2018 document, They Shouldn't Grow Old, allowed people to watch the actual footage of the film reels that had been in the archives for almost 100 years, and this centenary may be what is creating new interest in what happened in the past. called 'war to end it all'. wars ".
Filmmaker Sam Mendes (Skyfall) had a grandfather in World War I who told him stories when he was younger, inspiring him to create an original story with co-writer Kristy Wilson-Cairns about two young soldiers on an important mission, but apparently impossible. What Mendes does in 1917 with his relatively small cast and much larger crew is to create a war movie that can be compared more to Alejandro Inarritu's The Revenant than to modern war movies like Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, or soldier Ryan from Steven Spielberg. Much of this has to do with the minimalism of characters and words that puts the focus directly on the journey of the two boys, amid the chaos that surrounds them.
The camera opens on George MacKay's Schofield as he rests lazily on the grass with newbie Blake, who is supposed to take a soldier to a meeting about his next mission. As the camera pulls away and follows them, we see that they are in a large field absolutely packed with soldiers at rest between deployments. This immediate look defines what will be the most remarkable movie you watch this year.
In fact, it's quite appealing when you realize how following these two lone soldiers on your mission is able to keep you captivated in every scene. Whenever the two turn the corner, we are pushed into a new environment or locality, from wasteland covered with human carnage to a peaceful valley, usually within minutes. This kind of dichotomy, one of many inherent in the movie, is what keeps the viewer invested in a war movie that has much more to do with characters than with gunshots and explosives. About 40 minutes after the movie, something shocking (and quite bold) happens that changes the nature of the rest of the movie, and that's where you know very well that Mendes isn't kidding.
I will not spend much time discussing Mendes's initial idea of filming the whole of 1917 as a single scene. Very well, it could have been the result of the film, if exaggerated, but with the eyes and skills of Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, the camera work and lighting is unbelievable. More than a few times during the movie, you will be watching the screen, wondering how they achieved what they were watching. In fact, all aspects of 1917 feature a team of professionals around Mendes at the top of their game, from the production design team creating pics of Deakins' camera to capture, to a team of stuntmen and cameras leaving their jaws open. with his work … And again, without the use of traditional editing and the magic of movies as a crutch.
Other actors make brief pop-up appearances like Mark Strong or Benedict Cumberbatch, but they are all relatively small roles that never take Chapman and MacKay, the latter paving the way for a long career as a lead actor. They would be very good performances, even without the knowledge of the rigors they must have endured to make Mendes's idea of a single movie work the way it works. Like western and prison movies, the war movie is predominantly male-dominated, and this is also true in 1917, although it is not as uncomfortable or disturbing as in other films this year.
Thomas Newman's soundtrack ranges from ambient sounds that can scarcely be considered music, to the glorious swelling strings that are normally expected, effectively attracting all viewers' emotions at important moments. It takes a master filmmaker like Mendes to know when absolute silence is needed and when to allow Newman to reign a little longer. Sometimes the insurmountable tension that is being created is almost unbearable as you never know what soldiers can face and what can get in the way.
It is this kind of emotion that helps make 1917 such an amazing and remarkable film achievement. It is the epitome of widescreen film production that should only be seen in theaters to deliver its maximum effect.
1917 hits select cities on Christmas Day and then will expand nationwide in January 2020.