1917 Review : a hauntingly emotional, beautiful and action-packed film

As we close the curtains on 2019, we’re all beginning to summarise our favourite movies of the year/decade. But don’t be too quick on finalising that list, as you may just find one more to add- and that film is “1917”.

Set at the height of World War I, “1917” focuses on a very specific event in which two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), are given the mission from their General (Colin Firth) to deliver a message to another British battalion of 1600 men to hold off an attack soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich.

The seemingly impossible mission has the immediate agreement by the two soldiers, due to Blake’s older brother being in the battalion involved in the upcoming attack. The duo set off to face a number of literal obstacles, with a true unknown hanging over their heads in regards to the conditions ahead and the location of the German army.

Set as a continuous shot, “1917” follows Schofield and Blake on their mission, and has more suspense than any horror film of recent times, more emotion than any tear-jerking rom-com and more realistic action than a “Fast and Furious” film – no fast cars required. The scenery is mind-blowing, with every spec of mud, every rat and all the animals very obviously considered and planned – and such attention to detail don’t always get their dues – with so many movies getting rushed through production.

Directed and written by Sam Mendes, the story was developed from stories told by his paternal grandfather, Alfred Mendes, who served in the 1st Rifle Brigade, and fought for two years in Flanders, along the Belgian Front. Mendes has done an absolutely phenomenal job of telling these stories, with clever cinematography and a storytelling technique that far surpasses most films of recent times.

“1917” really cements itself into the genre of war, and why it can be an effective way to honour modern history. The tales told by veterans of war – not limited to World War I or II – are so important to our growth as a planet and society, and aren’t just a platform for entertainment, but also to keeping our history alive. Not to mention the lessons learned on conflict resolution.

It’s so easy to think that conflict can be solved without war, but within the past couple of decades it’s been proven that we are a long way off it, so to accurately tell the stories of the people involved in these events on the level of humanity is so important. And that’s where “1917” excels: it tells the tale on a human level, which creates empathy for literally every character. All-in-all, it’s one of Hollywood’s best war films, and should be forever remembered as such.

You may not be the type to shed a tear in a film, but there will be at least one moment – or many – that you get choked up, as Mendes has created the most incredible and haunting emotion through dialogue, soundtrack and basically just fabulous actors.

With names such as Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden, and Mark Strong littering the cast, you’re spoilt with the calibre of acting: but you really can’t go past the two leading men of MacKay and Chapman. Their faces may not be immediately recognisable, but they will forever be etched in your mind as they deliver outstanding performances that truly gives this story a heart. Such young talent should be recognised, and celebrated.

Bravo to everyone involved in the creation of “1917”, as this may just end up your favourite film of the decade.

5/5 Stars

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