A Mesmerizing Artistic Achievement
A captivating score, vivid imagery, and stellar direction make 1917 a beautifully gruesome film that perfectly encapsulates the horrors of trench warfare during World War I.
Tom (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Will (George Mackay), two British soldiers, live and fight in the trenches but dream of soon returning home. When their general (Colin Firth) receives word that the Germans are luring a nearby battalion into a vicious trap at dawn, the two men set off through no man’s land to warn them. Though reckless, Tom readily agrees to the mission, as his brother is in the other battalion.
A lieutenant (Andrew Scott) gives the pair directions to their destination and gives them a flare, but he, like Will, predicts a dismal outcome. Will and Tom begin their journey across no man’s land through the haunting scenery of war.
The two approach an abandoned German trench. While exploring, a rat triggers a trip wire and an explosion buries Will in rubble. Tom rescues him and drags him into the daylight, but Will is shaken and angry, only begrudgingly agreeing to continue on.
The pair reminisces about childhood and the humorous stories of war, making their way through fields to a seemingly abandoned farmhouse. While there, a German plane falls from the sky, damaged from a dog fight. Tom and Will rescue the pilot, who screams in agony, but while Will fetches water, the German stabs Tom in the stomach. Will comforts Tom, who is unable to move, as he succumbs to his wounds. Will takes Tom’s dog tags, hoping to deliver them to Tom’s brother.
A nearby squadron picks up Will and carries him farther along on his journey, but Will must leave to cross a broken bridge under a frenzy of bullets. Will fires at a sniper hidden in a nearby building and believes he hit his mark. He enters the building, gun drawn, only to be shot and wounded by another German soldier.
After passing out, Will awakes to the disorienting glow of flames and flares. He escapes the building and flees through the town, which has been reduced to rubble, and hides in windowless basement where he encounters a French woman and the abandoned baby she cares for. He shows them compassion, but must leave when the bell tolls and reminds him of his deadline at dawn.
Will escapes the Germans patrolling the town by jumping in the river, which he knows will lead him to the battalion. Exhausted and wounded, he nearly drowns and then plunges over a waterfall. When he emerges from the river, he sits among a British squadron only to realize they are a part of the battalion he is meant to warn.
Reinvigorated, Will sprints through the battalion, which has already begun their attack on the Germans, looking for the Colonel. When Will reaches the Colonel (Benedict Cumberbatch) he meets resistance. The Colonel believes he has finally cornered the Germans, but he relents upon reading the direct order Will carried throughout his journey. Will finds Tom’s brother and delivers the tragic news. Then he slumps under a tree to sleep.
1917 is an exhilarating story told in two continuous shots. Because of the fabulous direction and emotional performances, the film proves incredibly captivating and immersive. The audience can follow the protagonists as if they had joined the mission without being distracted by choppy editing and relentless cuts. The horrific details—rats, death, decay—produce a palpable anxiety that only heightens this immersion and intensifies the experience.
Artistically ambitious and emotionally driven 1917 is an instant classic. It returns to the war epic genre, bringing emotional complexity, complete characters, and artistry with it.
Release Date: 25 December 2019
Starring: George Mackay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: Sam Mendes
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Genre: Drama, War
Run Time: 119 minutes
Official Website: https://www.universalpictures.com/movies/1917
Official Social Media Pages:
IMDB Page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8579674/
Emily Anderson | Writing Contributor
B.A | English | UC Irvine
Emily Anderson has been obsessed with writing since elementary school, when she produced dozens of handwritten children’s stories on notebook paper. She is now a junior majoring in English and minoring in Literary Journalism at UC Irvine. Her many, many passions include travel, languages, classic literature, Marvel movies, Broadway, fashion, and homemade bread. She is grateful that the GeekRockTV program provides her a creative outlet to express these passions in writing. She looks forward to establishing a future career in journalism or publishing and hopes to use her writing to share the beautiful and fun things in the world. Instagram: @em_nicole55 || View My Articles
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