Saturday, August 21, 2021

#2,603. 1917 (2019) - Spotlight on England


A number of strong films were released in 2019, from Quentin Tarantino’s newest opus Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood to Mike Flanagan’s excellent Doctor Sleep, a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

But as far as I’m concerned, Sam Mendes’ epic World War One tale 1917 was the movie of the year.

To prevent the slaughter of an entire regiment, Lance Corporals Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) volunteer to travel across no-mans-land and into enemy territory to deliver a message to Col. MacKenzie: call off the upcoming attack. If the two are successful, they will have saved the lives of some 1,600 men, including Blake’s own brother. If they fail, the regiment will be walking into a trap set by the Germans.

Utilizing long, continuous shots, 1917 puts its audience smack dab in the middle of the action, as if we’re walking alongside Schofield and Blake in real-time as they carry out their mission. It’s a unique approach, pulled off brilliantly by Mendes and his crew, but more than that, this stylistic choice shows us, in no uncertain terms, just how quickly danger can sneak up on an unsuspecting soldier (an early scene in the German trenches involving a rat is the first of many such sequences).

The moment the two leads begin their mission, 1917 moves forward at full-throttle, maintaining a high level of excitement and tension that never lets up. Skillfully executed by everyone involved, from the actors through to the production designers, 1917 is destined to stand alongside Grand Illusion, Gallipoli, and All Quiet on the Western Front as one the greatest WWI films of all-time.
Rating: 10 out of 10

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