“1917” won three Oscars at the 2019 Academy Awards and was nominated for countless others, all well deserved. It also won three Golden Globes as well as seven awards at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA).
The film follows a story about two young corporals sent out on a mission: get orders to a neighboring company that the attack they’re going to carry out is actually a trap that will cost thousands of British lives. Radio lines are down, so Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) must travel on foot.
The film strives to create a realistic visualization of the horrors firsthand for those who have only learned about World War I through textbooks or documentaries. It is littered with dead bodies, bloated from drowning or blasted from gunfire.
One scene, where Schofield accidentally slices his hand on barbed wire and later falls, submerging his wounded hand in the carcass of a fallen soldier, is surprisingly not the most grotesque aspect of war that this film depicts.
It isn’t afraid to showcase the nitty gritty, but the way it is done is a masterpiece. The movie is shot to look as though the camera never stops rolling. Everything is edited together to look like one continuous take, one continuous journey… and what a journey it is.
I sat through the entire movie on the edge of my seat, something that rarely happens. The story absolutely enthralled me. It wasn’t exactly a new narrative from other war movies, but I was completely captivated, eagerly awaiting to see what unexpected twist in their quest would happen next.
Of course, this film was shot more so to be technically acclaimed, which is why the “Best Cinematography” Oscar was rightfully awarded to director Sam Mendes.
There were scenes so achingly beautiful that I forgot I was even in a movie theater. All I could focus on was the awe-inspiring shots in front of me.
The score of the movie only adds to it, so subtle that you wouldn’t even realize there is music backing such a narrative. It all feels so natural as do the use of special effects and sound.
“1917” also took home the Academy Awards for “Best Visual Effects” and “Best Sound Mixing,” all well-deserved as I have previously mentioned.
The film truly transforms the movie theater into a battlefield. Everything meshes together to make the audience feel as though they are making the trek across No-Man’s Land or cowering behind crumbled, bomb ridden rubble as they’re being shot at.
All the beautiful technical aspects, however, means that the plot is somewhat lacking. It is so easy to be caught up in the beauty of how these horrendous scenes are being captured, that one forgets they are watching a story unfold.
Dialogue is rough and few and far between. Blake and Schofield’s bond is obvious from the start, but never really gets a chance to blossom on screen. Their characters aren’t ever fully fleshed out, but that also showcases the beauty of this film.
The audience is thrown into the middle of a war, following the life-changing journey of two people they know nothing about, and experience war as the characters do.
It’s fascinating, just like the visuals of this film. “1917” is absolutely captivating, leaving few breadcrumbs behind for the viewers to come to their own conclusions on what some scenes truly mean. When the credits roll, you’ll have to give yourself a moment to process the horrid beauty of it all.