If you’ve always wanted to live in the moment of a WWI soldier in the front line, in the trenches, running through a field that’s inches away from bombs dropping, then the new film 1917 will be almost real enough that you’re there. Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall) has directed, as well as co-written along with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, a very fascinating and powerful movie taking place all in one consecutive take (with a small number of digital edits to make it look like one take the entire movie). The story is about two British privates, played by Dean-Charles Chapman and George Mackey, who are given an impossible mission by General Erinmore (Colin Firth). The mission is: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap. Definitely not a walk in the park this time.
The movie is based on stories that director Sam Mendes was told by his grandfather, Alfred Mendes, who served in WWI. At the time of this review, I had the pleasure of seeing the film twice before its Christmas Day release and both times I was riveted. From the opening shot to the final one, it pulls you throughout the entire duration. The performances by the two main leads, as well as the sprinkle of cameos by Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, and Firth, were incredible considering they had to remember all those lines and dialogue without screwing up a take. If they did, they would have to start the entire long take all over again.
Now, speaking of long takes, the real MVP of 1917 is Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins. Oh boy! If this movie doesn’t win him an Oscar for the second time in a row, the first being Blade Runner 2049, there will be hell to pay. The camerawork is the main star with its beautiful new Steadicam technology and amazing Jib work, this movie and its camerawork was carefully planned and it worked 100%. My absolute favorite scene in the movie is when one of the soldiers runs through the night in a ruined village while flares go off and light the night. It’s probably one of the most beautifully made sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie. Also, the score by go-to Sam Mendes composer Thomas Newman is probably the best score since Road to Perdition.
To wrap up this review, I will for sure consider this film to be one of my top 5 movies of 2019. With its incredible performances, the mind-blowing cinematography, and beautiful score, 1917 is a one-of-a-kind experience that you NEED to watch on the big screen with the best sound – preferably in Dolby Cinema and/or IMAX. This is a film that can not be missed. 1917 arrives in theaters Christmas Day.