Two British Soldiers, Lance Cpl Schofield, and Lance Cpl Blake receive orders to deliver a message to potentially save 1,600 lives of their comrades in World War 1. One of the soldiers of the 1,600 is Blake’s older brother. The two cross over into enemy territory and a worn-torn land to deliver the seemingly impossible mission in time before the battalion marches to their deaths.
My Thoughts on 1917 summarized
1917 was one movie that I was looking forward to since I saw the first trailer. 1917 is a fascinating and well-done movie. The epic war movie 1917 call itself does live up to its name and genre. 1917 is shot in a way to make the film look like this film is one continuous take. The constant style gives a great feeling of having no time to rest and take in what just happened. There isn’t much acting and character development, but still performed well by the actors as I thought the story is the strong driving force of the movie. There were some very brief appearances of some big-name actors that I thought could have been left out and had other actors take their roles. The movie also has a great soundtrack to go with the film.
Full Thoughts and Reactions after watching 1917
World War I (WW 1) is a period that I don’t see too often in film. I don’t have many memorable films that I can think about with typing this article. I do know and saw some WW1 films, like Gallipoli, All Quiet on the Western Front, Wings, and maybe War Horse and Lawerence of Arabia, if the latter two count. I can name countless World War II (WW 2) movies I’ve seen. So why does it seem to me that WW 1 is not as memorable as well as WW 2?
I can only speculate, maybe it was because the US entered the war at the end of WW1 and that WW1 is over 100 years gone. Maybe that WW 2 has more clear cut villains and bad guys in Hitler and the Nazi’s that we could boo. WW 1 was a more brutal and miserable war in many ways than WW 2. WW 1 never had a deceives moment like WW 2’s D-Day. Soldiers on each side seemed evenly matched. The infantry was fighting most of the time in trenches and exposed to some of the deadliest chemical weapons used in a war, like chlorine gas, diphosphine, even flame throwers.
Being based on some fragmented stories from Sam Mendes’ grandfather’s time in WW 1, 1917’s story is simple and effective. Two solider’s need to stop an attack before 1,600 soldiers march to their death. They can’t contact the other army due to telegraph and telephone lines being cutoff and must deliver the message in person. This film isn’t that long, clocking in at about two hours. It’s the right length for this type and style of the film. It also doesn’t feel like the story ever gets sidetracked from the main story. There is a moment or two we get a brief break and introduced to some other characters, but the focus on getting the message to the troops is what counted and keep the tale functional.
The idea of having one seemingly long continuous take works with this movie. It may even work best in the war movie genre. Of course, it’s not truly a one-shot movie, and you can sometimes tell when a cut does happen. It gives the main characters and audience no time to think and comprehend what has happened. It gave me a feel of what this could be like to be a soldier in WW 1, having to provide a message in a day with no time to stop. You have to make it thought several miles through enemy lines and preventing troops from going on a suicide mission. It’s not to say that the whole film was like this. There were a few moments the main characters had time to reflect on what had happened. But right away, they had to pick up and go back to their mission.
The set design for the movie was terrific. The amount of detail that it must have taken to recreate the hellish landscape of No Man’s Land must not have been an easy task. The Muddied landscape with overcast skies, corpses that were either freshly killed, or rotting and decaying for quite some time. Even to the dead horses that rotted out on the battlefield was a nice touch. Some bodies were in the mud and also looked like nature, and the bombed-out holes started to bury them in the ground. Others even strung up in barb wire, looking like they were desperately trying to escape the battlefield at any cost. When Blake and Schofield were going through this land, you got a sense of tension and unease. These two soldiers not knowing if they are walking into a trap or to their deaths across the field. Watching this, I honestly got the feeling of war and tension in this scene.
The acting wasn’t anything that stood out for me. The acting was good, but I was more impressed with the story, and 1917 felt story-driven instead of performance-driven. We did get appearances from Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch, but I think that this wasn’t necessary, and they didn’t need to be in the film. They were in the movie for about five minutes each. I don’t think that they were necessary to have in the movie unless they were going for the prestige and some big-name actors. I feel that any other actors could have taken these roles.
The following article contains spoilers from this point on.
Slightly before the halfway point of the film, Blake does get stabbed by an enemy soldier, and Unfortunately has is killed. It wasn’t much of a surprise to me, as the trailer prominently features Schofield running through the battlefield alone in the movie trailer. It needed to happen, as it had to build some drama and goal for Schofield. Up to this point, we only had motivation for Blake since his brother was in the battalion that would be in the attack Blake and Schofield needed to stop. It also keeps with the dark theme of war and casualties, that soldiers die, and the impact that it has on a family, even relatives serving on the same side. It reminded the audience that while Schofield didn’t want a part of this mission, he still had to continue for his duties.
My other favorite section was the bombed-out village that Schofield ran through, avoiding enemies cat and mouse style. The area looked like a decayed labyrinth, while enemy soldiers scattered around. One other mention that I’d like to say is that we hardly see any enemy solider’s in 1917. The several we did see made them feel very menacing to Schofield’s Mission. Except for a few times, we didn’t get to see any close-ups in this part. It can make you feel like you don’t want to know who the solider is and that you want them kept away from the heroes of the story.
The last thing to note is the soundtrack. Thomas Newman’s score sets up such an ambient but tense musical score when you watch the film. It keeps you in such a grip on the story that you want to keep watching and see what happens. The soundtrack does have moments of somberness, and it also has some great tracks that keep you on the edge of your seat. Each track is where it needed to be in 1917. The music sounds great, and check it out if you have the chance to do so.
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