You’re stuck in the netherworld between life and death. With just a flask of water and a few cans of food at your disposal, you clutch the 8.8 pounds of your future—ready to fire it at all times. Everything you see, hear, and smell is suddenly converging. Mustard gas in the trenches. A beautiful farm, surrounded by dismantled landscapes. A crumpled chapel, falling into flames. The ominous sounds of a foreign tongue, echoing in the distance. Dust shimmering in the air—in your nose, in your eyes. Whispers of your family. The heartbeat of your wife. And suddenly, a bullet blasts into the wall behind you. Gunfire rains upon you. 1917.
But however imposing and in-your-face 1917’s setting remains, it is a character-driven film. It’s not about World War 1, the setting, or war in general as much as it is about the two cogs churning the story—Lance Cpl. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Cpl. Schofield (George MacKay)—who were as brilliant as the technical aspects (from the cinematography to the sound mixing). It is the agony and fear and reluctance and impulses that follow them. You see it in their facial expressions, their dialogue, how they walk/crawl/run through the land, how they gaze upon the horizon with despair—as they lurk behind enemy lines to deliver a message that would save 1,600 troops from marching right into a German trap.
But the defining trait of 1917 is that it appears to be one continuous shot, like Birdman. The special effects and camera angles used to maintain this illusion are effective. You surrender your attention and follow the messengers from the first frame to the last, without a single break. Every second keeps you on your feet. You are vulnerable, scared, in awe, and, ultimately, rewarded. And when the credits roll, you find yourself asking questions. What are the limits of human perseverance? And pain? How did mankind reach a point wherein world war became a solution? What was it like? Well, 1917 gives you a pretty great taste.
V quality film, the two main actors did a fine job, sam mendes put in his best directing work since american beauty in my personal viewpoint
I’m responding well after the fact, but had to compliment you on your review.
This was one of my favourite films of that year and I was lucky enough to be there at the World/Royal premiere in London Dec 4 2019. Amazing.
Thank you so much, Richard! And I love that you got to see the premiere. Sounds like an incredible memory. Cheers!
My pleasure, Luke! Yes, it really was an incredible memory. Cheers and keep up the reviews
Also, that’s so impressive that you review a film every day. No way I could do that ha.
Thanks! It’s been my plan for the past year to travel through the history of film from the first days of silent cinema right on through to modern film so it’s going to be years in the making… here’s hoping I can make it!
You can do it! Just curious: What are your fav silent films? I’ve seen City Lights, Modern Times, and a couple other Charlie Chaplin films but otherwise am very inexperienced when it comes to pre-40’s films.
I started January 1st, and so far so good.
A few of my favourite silent films are:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) A German expressionist masterpiece with Conrad Veidt (of later Casablanca fame)
Flesh and the Devil (1926) with the divine Greta Garbo.
The Wind (1928) with mesmerising Lillian Gish.
Pandora’s Box (1929) with incredible Louise Brooks
and many more that will appear on my site as time goes by….
Ps: thanks for asking.
I gotta check them out, then! Looking them up. Thanks so much for all of the helpful info. It means a lot. Going to try to watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari this week!
Please do. They really are worth a watch and I’ll be interested to know what you think.
I love film and the cinema and any chance I can get to watch to share or discuss is all great to me!
Will indeed let you know what I think. I love film and cinema and discussing as well! Especially the works that are in the “Favorites” section on my menu haha. Thanks again!
Thanks for the link. I’ll look into the show.
^I could talk about this show all day. 😂
Hi Luke. Did you ever get a chance to see Dr. Caligari?
I watched first 45 minutes but then got off track. I’ll make sure to finish this weekend!
That’s a jolly good start for a silent film!
Ha. I have just under 30 minutes left, I believe, so I’ll get it done soon. Excited!
That’s right. Do enjoy it!
Oh and The Great Dictator also (obviously not a silent film but one of my favorites from the early days of film due to the speech at the end).
ur literary elements r cute
need to see dis
I really wanted to watch this movie when it came out but never got the chance and eventually forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me.
No problem! Hope you get a chance. One of the better war films ever made, in my opinion.
That’s good to know.
Excited to c it
Lmk what you think, btw!
Great review. I actually thought it was the Best Film of the year. I have problems with focusing on things for too long, but this film won me over. I was there with the characters and the action. My other choice is Marriage Story. It was also excellent, especially in the acting of the whole cast. Earlier in the year, I would have chosen Joker.
Loved all of those films, especially the former two. Thanks for the great comment!
Seeing it Thursday night. You’re reviewing all of the right ones haha
Haha I try! Hope you enjoy
birdman was tight so I got high hopes
Yeah plus they’ll probably both win the Oscar for Best Picture—Birdman already did!
Loved it bro. Sucgh a cool movie
Heck yeah. Racking up those Oscars right now
I love George MacKay, every film he’s in is good.
Awesome! What else was he in that you really liked? I think this was my first time to see him, but it was enough to prove his immense talent.
George MacKay Films I recommend: Captain Fantastic, Marrowbone, Defiance there are more films but I can’t remember the titles. He’s an excellent actor.
Awesome. Thank you so much, Judy! Just looked it up and he’s only 27 so that’s fantastic to hear! Will look into those films indeed. 🤠
You’re welcome, Luke. He has impressive talent and presence. I don’t usually like horror films, but I liked Marrowbone, (he has the lead role in it), it’s scary but intelligently done. Captain Fantastic is also a good film. I hope you like them 🙂.
Looked into both and saw the trailers. Going to watch Captain Fantastic on Amazon Prime Video!