1917 Movie Review: A Cinematic Masterpiece which will be registered as the finest movie of the era.Modified On: 17 January 2020 | Reviewed By: Saurabh S Nair
Director Sam Mendes unites with cinematographer Roger Deakins to make a film to cherish for life.
Cast: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth
Director: Sam Mendes
I just love films or scenes shot in one continuous shot or designed in such a way that it looks like one interrupted continuous take-ups such as Rope (1948) or Birdman (2014). And 1917 is war movie designed in such a way that it looks like one continuous shot. But 1917 is more than that.
Sam Mendes's Oscar-nominated movie is a cinematic masterpiece. The film is so gripping that you might just be stuck to your seat and might not blink for one bit.
Three years already into the First World War (1914-’18), two young British soldiers are dispatched on an against-the-clock mission to inform a battalion that the enemy is merely playing possum for a while and intends to re-attack. It’s a journey to the depths of hell – and maybe back – for Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and his mate Schofield (George MacKay).
Blake has been chosen by his commanding officer (Colin Firth) to deliver the cautionary message since his elder brother is in the about-to-be-tricked battalion. Schofield has been chosen randomly. As they traverse through no-man’s terrain in the German-occupied French countryside, we keep hoping that at the end of the 119-minute screen time, the mission impossible will somehow succeed.
Lance Corporal Blake, played by Dean-Charles Chapman and Lance Corporal Schofield, played by George MacKay has youthful bravery that is heart-breaking. They are basically children playing with death. Bodies loom large in this film – men, rats, dogs, cows. In one scene, Schofield plunges his hand into the open stomach of a corpse. And yet, despite the omnipresent death and destruction, 1917 feels throbbing and thrillingly alive.
The cinematography is done by the greatest cinematographer alive Roger Deakins and here the camera moves like a fluid documenting the event like it never going to end.
The production design by Dennis Gassner is also meticulously detailed. Mendes immerses us into the hell of war. There is no escape from the misery and the mud, the cold and the chaos. But the realistic textures are offset by surreal touches. The No Man’s Land that these men cross seems like a vast wasteland. In one sequence, the terrain is lit by yellow phosphorescent haze, like a nether world. It’s grand and tragically beautiful. Thomas Newman’s sparingly used music heightens the piercing sense of unfathomable loss.
This isn’t Mendes’ first foray into the proverbial heart of darkness. The director of the Oscar-winning debut American Beauty (1999) and the recent Bond thrillers Skyfall and Spectre, had helmed Jarhead, a look at the US Marines during the Gulf War back in 2005. With a far more assured touch and with unrivaled intensity, Mendes gives us a film that encapsulates the madness and futility of war from way back in the last millennium right down to this day and age.
Finally, 1917 is a movie which should not be miss at all. This film is the same range of War movies such as Saving Private Ryan (1997), Apocalypse Now (1979) and the recent Dunkirk (2017).
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