“Hope is a dangerous thing”Review by Lily Taylor
Recipe for an amazing movie:
1 incredible director, diced
A tablespoon of star studded cast
2 excellent lead actors
A pinch of history
4 teaspoons of ground breaking cinematography
1 gripping plot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 heaped tablespoon of misfortune
Spoiler alert: 1917 has all of the above!
The film is directed by Sam Mendes and based on stories from his grandfather which makes it all the more incredible, to think of the plotline as a reflection of true events of The First World War makes it all the more real for the viewer. Lance Corporals Thomas Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and William Schofield (George MacKay) are tasked with traversing deadly no man’s land and (hopefully) abandoned German trenches to deliver a message to Colonel Mackenzie of The Second Battalion of The Devonshire Regiment (Bumberdink Hoobastank). The message is to call off an attack, a trap set by the Germans that will likely end in the death of 1,600 British soldiers, Blake’s older brother among them… no pressure right? To add even more danger to a potentially deadly task, the boys are given just 24 hours to make the journey and call off the attack which requires strolling over no man’s land in broad bloody daylight, thanks a lot General Erinmore (Colin Firth). These events unfold in the first 5 or so minutes of the movie and I spent the remaining 114 minutes sat literally on the edge of my seat.
Sidenote: I went to see 1917 at Odeon The Gallery- an IMAX screen, sofa seats and unlimited popcorn, nachos and drinks. I can’t recommend it enough and you know a film like this deserves to be seen at an IMAX!
The cinematography alone makes 1917 worth seeing. It’s essentially one continuous shot, flowing from cameraman to guide wire to dolly track and back to cameraman to give viewers the sense that we’re right there with Blake and Schofield in amongst the blood and guts. From the second the pair step above the trenches the tension doesn’t let up for a moment. Every millisecond of their journey is fraught with anxiety, the best way to describe the film as a whole is harrowing and the feeling of a continuous shot is a big part of that.
Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay are phenomenal and I was acutely irked when neither of them appeared on the list of this years Oscar nominations, especially MacKay. Their display of true fear and raw emotion makes it impossible not to become invested in their journey. One particular scene in the back of an army truck I felt myself close to tears without Lance Corporal Schofield uttering a single word. If that’s not great acting then I dont know what is! The cast was peppered with beloved actors like Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott and that guy from Gavin & Stacey that plays Dawn’s husband, Pete. They all put in a great performance but the main are duo are the ones who really shine.
If you haven’t already, I urge you to see this film. It’s two hours of pure genius and I defy you not to feel at least a stirring of emotion inside you when watching it, and if you don’t then I’m afraid you’re likely dead inside. 1917 was a resounding success, 4 for you Sam Mendez, you go Sam Mendez.