Directed by Sam Mendes (Skyfall) 1917 is centred around Lance Corporals Will Schofield (Geroge MacKay) and Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) who are given a mission to deliver a message to stop an attack, otherwise 1600 men will be walking right into a meticulously planned German death trap.
The premise is simple but the execution is superb; several long shots are sewn together to create one, single continuous shot. This results in a beautifully made, on the rails experience helped in no small part by Roger Deakins’ masterful cinematography. With him having previously worked on the gorgeous Blade Runner 2049 this comes as no surprise.
An immersive first person film, you are put right in the thick of the action with you learning what is afoot when Schofield and Blake do. The violence, danger and brutally of war is on show, as is the anxiety and fear – you are willing them on in the face of ever mounting odds. The films engrossing nature and ever increasing tension is further aided by the evocative soundtrack of long time Sam Mendes collaborator Thomas Newman.
The two aforementioned leads are impeccable, you empathise with them and see the effects of their perilous and exhausting mission first hand. The more well known stars put in good if rather brief performances; Colin Firth’s posh General Erinmore, Andrew Scott’s cynical Lieutenant Leslie and Benedict Cumberbatch’s prickly Colonel Mackenzie among them. Not forgetting Mark Strong’s caring Captain Smith and Richard Madden’s turn as Tom’s brother, Lieutenant Joseph Blake near the end.
1917 is an exquisitely made, visceral and immersive thriller-cum-war epic that shows the brutality and horrors of war and takes you along for the ride. A must see.