1917 is Sam Mendes second foray into the war genre. Ah yes, you forgot about Jarhead didn’t you… After 2005’s Jarhead, which I myself loved, 1917 is a hugely ambitious step up for Mendes. He has to be commended for using this ‘one shot’ technique for what seems to be it’s perfect use. Believe the hype. 1917 is this years Saving Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridge, Dunkirk. It’s 100% fitting that it’s in the conversation surrounding these war greats.
The use of the one-shot technique for this type of film is genius, as it completely immerses you in the action with little reprieve. Seemingly menial moments like following these two young men walking through the trenches is enthralling & captivating. This is also superbly elevated by the pitch-perfect score that is coursing through the veins of the film. Honestly, the score is impeccable, goosebumps a plenty… and the Oscar for best score goes to Thomas Newman, 1917. Then there’s Roger Deakins cinematography. Need I say more. It’s stunning from start to finish, with some scenes very reminiscent of 2049.
Let’s get some minor flaws out of the way. Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen from GOT) was the wrong casting for this one. A) he’s a little too chubby for this role. It’s even eluded to at the start there is no food around, yet Blake looks very well fed. Chapman also doesn’t nail some of the important scenes, which takes some of the emotional punch away from them. The only other thing to mention might be the fact the Germans can’t seem to aim to save their lives. It did start to feel a little hard to believe at times.
George MacKay does a wonderful job as the lead. He hits all the right notes of emotion and intensity. There’s also a bunch of great cameo appearances spread throughout the film, including Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Andrew Scott in a great little scene where a few smiles are to be had.
1917 is a movie that demands to be seen on the big screen, the biggest screen. It’s definitely one of the best films of the year, and an amazing effort in cinema.