At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers - Blake's own brother among them.
Inexorable Videos Micro Review: 1917
- 1917 review by EP
Deakins and Mendes combine talents to create what is undeniably one of the most technically impressive films of recent years. However, sometimes it feels like the story is complementing the camera work, and not the other way around.
We found this rather lacking in emotion, bland, sanitised and overall very dull. Suggest you watch Gallipoli or Hacksaw Ridge for a gripping war film, this one isn't.
5 out of 15 members found this review helpful.
Excellent piece of cinema, historically implausible, however
- 1917 review by Philip in Paradiso
This is an excellent film, and quite a unique one in terms of its pace, its suspense, and the quality of the acting and storyline. As a film, it is faultless and I strongly recommend it.
As a historical drama, however, it is implausible in more ways than one. The inaccuracies are listed in the relevant section of the Wikipedia article on the film: the high command would not have cared two hoots whether 1,600 men were going to get killed or not (given the scale of the slaughter in WWI: a drop -- of blood -- in the bucket); the front was static and the troops were cooped up in trenches, whereas the movie shows 2 soldiers on the move at all times, showing initiative and coping all by themselves -- so, the entire film is built upon a false premise that is a-historical. The officers, except one, are surprisingly humane and approachable -- a good few of them at any rate. I think this is also pure fiction.
There are also details that are absurd. E.g.: an Indian soldier is part of an all-British unit of infantry. In reality, Indian troops were in separate regiments, as part of the Indian Army, which did fight on the Western front, but was pulled out in 1916. This is just a politically correct gimmick, in other words. And letters carried in envelopes do not seem to get wet and the ink doesn't run, even after they've been immersed in water. (When you see the film, you will understand what I mean.)
Having said all this, watch the film and you will enjoy it. It is excellent as a film. It looks highly realistic, even though it is not realistic at all -- not one bit. However, the depiction of no man's land is suitably macabre and memorable.
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.
Over-rated and Oddly Flat, Overly pc/woke WWI Quest Film with a Top-Notch British Cast.
- 1917 review by PV
OK so the technical side of creating this movie with very long takes and no editing was a masterful use of technology - watch the EXTRA documentaries on the DVD about this.
But and it is a big but, the film and story oddly fail to really engage - and the CGI is massively used (done in India I see from the credits). Maybe because it's a thin story - 2 soldiers on a mission into enemy territory to deliver a message to stop a deadly doomed attach by the British on the Germans in 1917 (not a spoiler - the blurb states this). So that is what it is. 2 hours of it.
A great cast including the wonderful young actor George Mackay almost unrecognisable for his role in Pride as a young shy teen. One to watch - an Oscar one day for him, I am sure. BUT this over-rated and over-praised movie is not the one.
A couple of niggles. I HATED the superhero movie soundtrack - it really spoilt so many scenes (and no I do not care what won a BAFTA).
Secondly, it is wrong to show Indian soldiers mixed in with young British men - it did not happen like that. There were Indian units, for sure, separated - by colour, yes, but mostly by religion due to deep ancient hatreds of Indians by Indians (Muslim, Hindu, Sikh). That is another film, so show that. Ditto for the black soldiers - there were separated West Indian units in WWI (not WWII in the UK - in the US< yes) as well as a TINY number of British-born blacks reflecting the tiny number of blacks in the UK in 1917 to join up. There are too many here and yes it does matter as it would matter if white faces were shown in a film about Zulus or native Indians, non? It seems to me people pick and choose colourblind casting as it suits them and their agenda. If it doesnlt they yell about 'authentic casting' - well this casting was not authentic and it spoilt the film as it is promoting a pc woke imagined and wished-for truth rather than a historical one. Shame.
3 stars. A bit meh and feels oddly lacking in emotion and flat. I cannot work out why.
Superbly acted and filmed. An interesting and fast moving story with great sound and visual effects. Well worth watching and a film to remember and watch again.
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
Looks great...but it has some issues
- 1917 review by LC
Visually this film is stunning, and worth a watch just on that level, with amazing sets, camerawork and cinematography. However, the flipside is that everything is so artfully composed that it ends up losing any sense of reality, with the constant smooth gliding of the camera giving the feel of either a computer game, or a sanitised, glossy Hollywood production, rather than more gritty war films of the past. The script also tends towards Hollywood sentimentality at times, whilst both the lead characters make baffling decisions when confronted with the enemy, on multiple occasions putting their lives in danger, rather than actually do the obvious thing of raising their guns and immediately shooting their opponents. Still - worth watching just for the eye candy. (3.5 out of 5)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
Nail biting action movie but...
- 1917 review by MB
1917 is a proper nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat action movie. The film-making / camera work is superb and my brain hurts just trying to work out how Mendes and his crew did it so well. The storyline is proper 'boys own' and you really are rooting for the main characters to be successful.
There has to be an element of 'near-missism' but some of the capers were a little far fetched for such a serious film.
The three stars as opposed to four, for me, was mainly because of the Am-Dram-esque acting. The way the characters delivered their lines was as if they were performing at the local church hall performance of 'Far from the Madding Crowd' or something, rather than in the middle of a 2020 movie about the worst bloodbath in human history! Other, more learned scholars, may well disagree with me but that's how I saw it.
0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
Stunning camera work; poor plot
- 1917 review by na
The camera work is undeniably stunning; an impressive technical achievement. However this is at the expense of the plot which lacked plausibility and authenticity. The storyline just didn't seem believable, and it's the cleanest and tidiest set of soldiers I've seen portrayed in the WWI trenches! I was really looking forward to watching this film but it was a huge disappointment. The best bit of the film is the score.
It won Oscars for Cinematography, Visual Effect and Sound; deservedly so. However, like most modern movies, the story is neither credible nor interesting. It is nowhere near in the same class as Saving Private Ryan, All Quiet on the Western Front, Deer Hunter etc. Worth a watch but don't expect too much of it. Certainly no classic.
1917 may as well have been called The One-Shot War for its stylish gimmick that has paraded in the media. The film can almost be a game of trying to determine where the cuts were made in its presentation of one continuous shot and just how the camera got to such a perspective. While this focus on the technical certainly makes one more aware of the craft, it also makes one more appreciative of the experience. Sam Mendes certainly delivers an unforgettable World War 1 pictures in this aspect.
The film concerns two British soldiers on the frontlines that are given one of the most dangerous of missions. The army has learned of a German surprise attack that could decimate the British forces on another side of the battlefront. The two men are tasked with traversing the dangerous German territories by hopping out of the trenches and straight into hell to deliver the crucial message. One of them has a brother serving on that side so there’s reason enough to hurry, if not for the hail of gunfire and explosions they’ll face along the way.
The two soldiers fulfill a sufficient role by adhering to some somewhat expected melodramatics of staging a war drama; there’s some tension, some dry humor, some contemplation of home, some tragedy, and some near misses. But let’s be honest; this is all more in service of the vibrant visuals more than anything. The argument of the film being little more than a pretty piece of fantastic filmmaking is not really a negative here. This is a film that knows where its strengths lie and it’s clearly not in the most original depictions of soldiers and superiors, despite some strong cameos from the likes of Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch along the way.
Every scene is perfectly staged. Though there is no exciting action for the first twenty minutes, it builds so well with a brooding in the soundtrack and a fear in the characters. We’re let in on how dangerous the journey will be and the first few steps out into the open are treated with the terror they deserve. Some jumps and surprises occur when the two discover hidden bombs, are fired upon by soldiers and flee from the wreckage of a dogfight. And though there’s a ticking-clock sensation throughout, there are still a few moments that feature a somber break from the action to catch your breath.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins has truly outdone himself with this picture. The camera whips around so many different angles and shots as it constantly follows the central soldiers. It goes high, low, into buildings, into tunnels, into trucks, into crowds, behind soldiers, underwater, off cliffs, over the hills, etc. There’s a constant battle with the eyes and the mind of trying to pay attention to find all the seams and then getting lost within the story that you almost forget about it.
For example, one scene features a soldier hop into a truck with other soldiers, sitting around and thinking about the mission while some joke about their superiors. An interesting scene that takes a break from the action but, wait a minute, how did the camera just effortlessly shift directly behind a soldier with his back to the wall of the truck? How did it get there? These are the unique questions I love thinking about while watching a technical marvel, amazing enough that I almost don’t want the answer how it was done if only to believe a little more in movie magic.
1917 is just damn good filmmaking and one of the strongest presentations of a war film I’ve seen since Dunkirk, bursting with an astounding sense of color and thrill. Last year, I watched Peter Jackson dress up World War 1 archive footage in his documentary They Shall Not Grow Old. If that film was vividly informative for the engaging presentation, Mendes gives an added dose of spectacle to that same sense of capturing history. Try to double-feature both if you can.
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