Entertainment Spotlight: 1917

J.R. Waller, MBA


Two British soldiers in World War One, George MacKay’s Schofield and Dean-Charles Chapman’s Blake, must deliver a message across enemy lines.

If they succeed the lives of hundreds of soldiers will be saved. The film follows their dangerous race against time through various perilous situations.


Cinematically, 1917 significantly departs from anything before it thanks to Sam Mendes inventive brilliance.

He and equally adept cinematographer Roger Deakins and editor Lee Smith (with the help of an Arri Alexa LF Camera) managed to construct the narrative of the film as two continuous takes though which the viewer follows the leads over the course of twenty-four hours as they journey across various war-zones to deliver their urgent message.

While it might sound gimmicky, Mendes “single-shot” narrative is done to tremendous effect and might possibly be looked back on as a paradigm shift in cinematic storytelling in the years to come.

The result of his creative prowess is a movie that is altogether engaging. You fear what the leads fear, and feel what they feel every step of the way.

The 3rd person like aspect of following them around only heightens an already tense atmosphere that pervades every inch of the deserted farms, burning cities, dark tunnels and drenched trenches the solders must traverse – of which all were shot on location.“Mendes ‘single-shot’ narrative is done to tremendous effect and might possibly be looked back on as a paradigm shift in cinematic storytelling in the years to come.”

1917 pulls no punches. It leaves the viewer ever at the edge of the proverbial seat. It’s a simple story, told in a unique way, and in the end the payoff is excellent.

In this reviewers’ estimation it is the best World War One film ever made, and one of cinema’s greatest achievement this side of the Millennium.

The real critics also agree, having lavished the film with Best Drama and Director awards at the Golden Globe Awards; not to mention three prizes at the Academy Wards as well (Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects).

Just make sure you don’t allow yourself to be misled by Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth’s standout names on the marquee. They are indeed present, but are merely quick side shows attractions to the outstanding performance of the leads.

Realistic, intense, emotionally stirring, unequivocally heroic…its hard to describe a film as outstanding as 1917. I could wax eloquent for a long time but I’ll digress, I think you get the point.

Mendes’ grandfather served in World War One, and his story (which the film is based on) is the stuff of legend just as much as 1917 will be in the years to come.

The film’s flag is planted firmly in the ground and looks forward to the salutes of future generations of film fans.

For now though, it will remain a masterpiece of contemporary cinema. Unsurprisingly, 1917 gets my highest recommendation.

Further Details

1917. Released December 25, 2019 by Universal Pictures. 119 min. Trailer.

Rated R – for violence, some disturbing images, and language. 1917’s R rating is on the softer side, but its still a no go for younger teens on down. Language, though brief, is strong, and though the violence is not necessarily grisly, many of its war images are fairly gruesome. The film also maintains an overall intense feel throughout. But don’t let any of this turn you away, if you think you can handle it definitely give it a watch, you won’t regret it!

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Image © 2019 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. All rights reserved.

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