1917 review

Nicholas Solomon

Having already won several awards by the time this review is written, “1917” had a lot of hype surrounding it following release.  

The film tells the story of two young soldiers fighting during World War I in Northern France. Coming from director Sam Mendes of films such as “Skyfall,” “Spectre,” and “Revolutionary Road,” – “1917” gives the illusion that it’s filmed in one continuous shot.

Normally something used sparingly, and certainly not for an entire film’s run-time, aside from 2014’s “Birdman.”

Thankfully, this one-shot format is not a gimmick, and I can say that viewers need to see this film on the biggest and loudest screen they can find in their local theater. The film has three big strengths: the story/acting, the cinematography and the music.

The film focuses on two young British soldiers, Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), and Lance Corporal Will Schofield (George MacKay), who move a considerable distance on foot to deliver an urgent message from command to a battalion under imminent threat.

While there are certainly big names in the film (unfortunately spoiled by trailers) as well as other actors, these two take up much of the screen time.

The pacing is brilliant, having tense moments and quiet ones at just the right times. This is integral to the film’s success.

Done by award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, the film immerses you in a story taking place over 100 years ago in the French countryside. From the overwhelmingly dirty and disease ridden trenches, to the no man’s land that characters venture through – this film exhibits a serene and silent beauty.

There are many nuances to this film. I must say that some scenes in “1917,” especially with the perfect use of color palette, have to be some of the greatest experiences I’ve had in the theater.

The film is minimalistic and bombastic at all the right moments; making it even more effective. I was amazed, even after seeing much of Deakins’ other work, with many scenes being paintings. The score, composed by Thomas Newman fits with this brilliantly.

“1917” set the bar heading into 2020 and I’ll be surprised if the production crew doesn’t take home several technical awards.

I strongly recommend this film from its story with the “blink-and-miss pace,” to the one-shot aspect.

Edited by Adam White, Wesley Tabor, Jason Morrison