1917 (2020 Film) – A Review: The film ‘1917’ opens on April 6, 1917, with Lance Corporal Blake (Dean – Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay), British troops posted in France, receiving a new set of orders. They are ordered to delivery and physically convey a message to the troops posted at the front line who are gearing up for an attack on the retreating Germans.
Howeāver, according to the British Command, the German retreat is a trap. Since the telephone lines are cut, the two messengers have to carry the letter from the British command to the front line, ordering Col. Makenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the British soldiers not to attack. Lance Corporal Blake immediately accepts the task as his brother (Richard Madden) is one of the troops at the front line who are unknowingly running into a trap laid down by the Germans.
The brutalities and the horrors of World War I are visible throughout the sequence. The film is shot to look like one single take. However, we don’t know whether it is really one long take, or simply edited in a clever way. The entire credit for this goes to the editing of Lee Smith.
Setting up immediately for the journey fraught with danger, our heroes go through trenches, barbed wires, craters, tunnels, and towns wiped out via bombing. Though the messengers are not under a direct fire from the enemy, their journey is filled with calamities. Immediately after overcoming one calamity, another one stands in their way. This keeps the audiences hooked to the movie with little time to blink or exhale.
Director Sam Mendes dedicated this movie to his grandfather Alfred Mendes, who was a messenger during the World War I at the Belgian front. The movie is influenced from the stories told by the director’s grandfather to him. Not much of the history is consulted as cinematic liberties are taken in various scenes, as when a German plane drops sharply from the sky and our heroes try to rescue the pilot and Schofield’s meeting with a woman and her orphan baby in a village of Ecoust, which has been bombed-out.
Overall, the movie features excellent screenplay, great sound, and phenomenal visual effects. This is especially true for the climax scene, which is the ultimate highlight of the movie. When these are combined with the ‘one-take’ magic exhibited by ‘1917’ and the bravery and determination displayed by our two heroes, the audiences are simply left spell bound and thrilled beyond imagination. Go and watch 1917 in theaters as this is a movie, which is definitely not worth missing. The big screen of the cinema hall further fuels the intensity of the amazing camerawork of the movie.