A new World War I film called “1917” swept through the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. Directed, co-written, and produced by Sam Mendes, the movie will keep you holding your breath through the entire film. Starring George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, two young British soldiers during World War I deal with a task of delivering a message calling off an attack doomed to fail. The pair has to cross no man’s land, move through abandoned German trenches, pass through abandoned homes, and cross through German-occupied territories.
The only reason why these two are tasked with such a challenge is that Chapman’s character, Lance Corporal Blake’s older brother, is one of the 1,600 men that will die if they fail this mission. I know sounds similar to “Saving Private Ryan,” with the whole playing the brother card. However, the movies could not be more different. The way that “1917” was shot has to be one of the main factors keeping your in your seat.
The whole movie is done in one singular shot. That means there are no breaks. Everything is at a constant moving pace, which gives you the same feeling of angst that the two young men are facing. There is no stopping to rest for the night because if they get to the base after dawn, it will have been too late.
Another thing that makes “1917” so interesting is that this is a story we do not learn in our everyday modern world history class, although we do learn of details regarding certain areas they travel through. This film was not based on a true story, which makes my anxiety so much worse because I can’t think, “Oh someone survived to tell what they went through.”
I have never been more nervous about a character’s survival in any movie because it wasn’t ever predictable, which is what is so fantastic about the movie. You could think one thing is going to happen, and then something you never even considered being a threat became a threat.
What is so unique about the film is that the two leads were not big name actors before. I had never seen either of them as a lead in anything else and I love when that happens, because I feel it’s the actors’ opportunity to prove themselves.
Sam Mendes was very smart when casting because not only did he use no named actors as the leads, but he cast very strong supporting actors to play simple roles for about five minutes each. Colin Firth played General Erinmore, and he spoke for probably three minutes, which I find crazy because he is such a well known British actor.
Anyway, the movie is one hour and 59 minutes, which I know sounds long, but it was worth it. It’s so action-packed that it only feels like you’re sitting there for 30 minutes. The movie has done exceptionally well at the awards: it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture as well as winning the Golden Glove for Best Motion Picture—Drama. The movie is currently in theaters but won’t be for much longer.