Set in April 1917, 1917 follows the journey of two soldiers during World War I: battle-hardened Lance Corporal Schofield and optimistic Lance Corporal Blake. These two men are tasked with an impossible task; they are to deliver orders to troops deep in enemy territory. Not only do they have to trek through enemy occupied territory, but they also have to deliver these orders before the attack at dawn. Learning this news, Blake is anxious to begin the mission right away, knowing that his brother is a part of that attacking squad. Schofield tries to convince Blake to begin at night, knowing that they can sneak through enemy lines under the guise of darkness. Eventually, due to Blake’s stubbornness, the two begin the mission right away. On their journey, they encounter traps and gunfights, losses and victories, and friendship and trust.
William Schofield is a Lance Corporal in the British army who has seen the brutality of war and has since been scarred. Schofield has seen enough of war that he no longer cares for medals of valor and things like that nor does he feel comfortable at his own home. Between the two protagonists he is the more level headed realist who thinks ahead before making decisions. Thomas Blake is also a Lance Corporal in the army and he seems younger than Schofield but also less pessimistic and more hopeful than his counterpart. Blake still has hope that the war will soon be over and he believes in the army, his duty and perhaps being brave enough to receive a medal.
This is a war movie unlike any I have seen before for many reasons but the biggest is how it is filmed. Firstly, this is one of few war films to focus on the first world war as opposed to World War 2 or other wars. What makes that fascinating is that World War 1 was a trench war with most of the war being fought in the trenches and on no man’s land which is less cinematic but this movie found a way to make it very compelling. Now this movie’s big selling point is its cinematography and how it was filmed to look as if it was one continuous shot. Through many different techniques the film moves continuously and the camera is almost in front or behind our protagonists so we don’t see anything the characters do not, there is no cutting to a different soldier to see the progress on the front lines, no cutting to the pilots above as the look down on our heroes, this is a simple and contained story about to soldiers trying to warn another company about a trap and it is filmed as such. The way it was filmed just adds to the intensity, as the audience is closer to the characters, we feel the danger a lot more which works for this kind of movie.
The film does shy away from the brutality of war though it is not particularly battle heavy as we do not even see our protagonists use their guns until an hour in but at the same time, we feel the war going on around us and how important the mission our characters are on is to saving many lives. The movie does show the impact of war quite well with many destroyed towns and houses as well as many gruesome looking soldiers who died fighting. The story, as I said, is not very grand but the premise of two soldiers going to warn a battalion that they are walking into a trap but our characters have to move on foot through many treacherous terrains to reach their destination is quite entertaining and will keep you engaged. The characters of Schofield (as played by George MacKay) and Blake (as played by Dean-Charles Chapman) are not the deepest or most developed characters ever but they are interesting enough that you want to follow them and they add the feel of humanity and stakes that you will care for them and anything that may happen to them. World War 1 was awful and so many men and civilians died throughout but this movie shows the story of two men trying to save lives while doing the duty to their country in a well-crafted story.
All in all a fantastic film that shows truly how brave the men who fought in that war were and has masterclass filmmaking throughout.
1917 was a wonderful movie that captured many different aspects of World War I. From the clean and orderly general’s quarters to the dirty and disgusting front lines, this movie portrayed all aspects of the war and romanticised it. Another aspect I really enjoyed about this movie were the characters and the interactions. Before a key moment at a barn, the relationship between Blake and Schofield changed dramatically and the mood was light. However, after that scene, the viewer is hit with the reality of war and the true pain and chaos it brings. From a cinematography standpoint, I was really impressed that the movie is shot in one continuous shot. This was my first exposure to this style, and it blended well with this style of movie. Being a war movie, there weren’t many moments where I felt that the protagonists were overpowered and superhuman. Instead, every event that happened felt real and possible.
The only gripe I had with this movie were some of the accents that were used. Sometimes it was difficult to understand what was said.
All in all, 1917 was a great movie and deserves to be watched by anyone and everyone. From the compelling story, to the special one shot action, to the brilliant characters, this movie is a joy for anyone to watch, granted they can handle some blood and war.
1917 is an incredible movie following two soldiers during World War 1. It is visually stunning, and a very moving film. This movie is even more incredible due to the fact that it is shot in “1 shot”. What this means is that the camera doesn’t change angles or cut to a different view point. It is super unique, and it really adds to an already good movie. Our main characters are very different, but this adds another layer to their interactions and their development. Their journey is one filled with struggles and emotions, and this is a movie you will find yourself emotionally involved in. Although Lance Corporal Schofield and Lance Corporal Blake are loosely based on a true story, the writers do a great job of conveying the emotions and cruelty of war.
The plot is also well written. From start to finish, it is super captivating. The mixture of action and emotion makes for a powerful movie that grabs your attention and your heart almost immediately. Death follows the main protagonists, showing the ruthlessness and pointlessness of war. There was a really good quote in the movie that reinforced this point, “If you get there, make sure there are witnesses. Some men just want the fight.”
Unlike many war movies, this one is more focused on telling the story of Lance Corporal Schofield and Lance Corporal Blake, as opposed to big battles and tons of violence. This is part of why it is so easy to become emotionally involved in 1917.
This is another case of wonderful storytelling, and this story needed to be told. World War 1 was brutal, and this movie doesn’t hide from that. It is a very emotional and captivating movie, one I really enjoyed. I absolutely suggest you go check this one out!
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Mendes, S. (Director), Mendes, S., Harris, P., Tenggren, J., McDougall, C., & Oliver, B. (Producers), & Mendes, S., & Wilson-Cairns, K. (Writers). (2019). 1917 [Motion picture]. United States: Universal Pictures.