Some complain about there being too many superhero films. For me, there’s too many history-related+biopic movies around awards season. So it’d take something special in this film category to impress me. Did 1917 impress me? Let’s find out..
Sam Mendes – as the director and co-writer – builds on what he did with the last James Bond film (Spectre) in the opening and constructs a World War One story around it, meaning it looks like it was all filmed at once. We largely follow Schofield (George MacKay, a real “breakout” performance), and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman, really proving his range post-Game Of Thrones), two young soldiers sent to deliver a message behind enemy lines.
I worried about how they might be able to tell enough drama while keeping the editing consistent to give the impression this was all filmed simultaneously. I won’t spoil much but basically, the visuals are never short of being sublime while also horrifying. There’s a resemblance to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk too in that there’s a built-in ticking-clock element (more in the background though as we’re drawn to the aesthetic as much as the story), and you get the horror of very young people forced into a nightmare.
If I’ve got two criticisms, it’s that maybe so much effort was paid to the specific editing, there’s certain things that then go unnoticed. For example, twice I spotted gaps where the simultaneous illusion was broken. And without spoilers, there’s one bit in the story that felt a little too convenient narrative-wise.
In the end though, I can’t praise the filmmakers and cast enough. Also worth mentioning that stars like Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch make their appearances but they aren’t in it loads. After all, ultimately you’re here for the two young actors I mention (especially George MacKay) and the experience itself. So see 1917 as soon as possible, Mendes did brilliantly directing a tribute to his grandfather, who fought during WW1.
P.S, I saw this in iSense 2D, very close to viewing 1917 in IMAX 2D and whichever of the formats you see it in, it absolutely blows your mind. Very recommended..