‘1917’ Makes War Movies into Art

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Photo Credit: François Duhamel

Schofield (George MacKay, foreground) with fellow soldiers in "1917," the new epic from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes.

Jack Zweig

Director Sam Mendes delivers yet another spectacular film in his new movie, “1917”. If the whole movie being one continuous shot isn’t enough to grab your attention, the heart-pounding suspense in this film will keep you at the edge of your seat. In April 1917, we find our main characters, Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) en route to receive a mission. The two find out that Blake’s brother and his battalion are being sent to attack the Germans, unaware that it is a trap. The attack would cost them around 1,600 lives. To exacerbate the situation, the attack was to happen the next morning and the two soldiers would have to go through the front lines to make it there. Although seemingly impossible, Blake and Schofield persist on in order to save the battalion. From crawling through barbed wire, to face to face encounters with fighter planes, the two young men go up against the true terrors of war.  

“1917”s use of one continuous shot throughout the movie makes the audience feel as if they are on the battlefield as well. The only break in the film is a black screen around half way through the film. It seemed nothing was put in as a time filler due to the entire movie being incredibly intense with non-stop action. After the two soldiers set off on their mission, they find a bunker behind enemy lines which turns out to be abandoned. They are relieved to see no one is there and begin navigating through the dark tunnels to get out. Just when they begin to ease up, a rat runs into a trip-wire. This causes the entire bunker to begin to collapse around them. Schofield was left temporarily blinded by the dust and debris, so Blake had to lead them on a very narrow escape. Throughout the movie, as things would quiet down, they would instantly go haywire. 

Apart from the whole film being an exceptional piece of film making, it did feel a little like a video game. The movie was so immersive that it felt like I was watching someone play Call of Duty. With the exceptional shots and special effects, it seemed as if you yourself were running into battle. Overall however, Sam Mendes delivered an insanely interesting and breathtaking story for people to start the new decade with.