World War I has really become the forgotten war in so many ways. To start with it was over a hundred years ago and we as a world also experienced a second World War which kind of gets all the attention. Cinema has mined so many stories from the WWII era, it kind of feels like it’s time to go back and give the first one the attention it deserves. Enter Sam Mendes (Skyfall), he and fellow writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns bring us 1917 a story about one faithful day that saved the lives of many of the men that fought in the war to end all wars.
On the morning of April 6th British soldiers Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are taking a quiet moment in an otherwise loaded war as they await their next orders. That comes in the form of delivering orders to a unit, of which Blake’s brother is a part of. The pair must get word to not attack the German front in the morning as it is a trap. Blake and Schofield must travel through what was once the German front and through no man’s land and try and get to their destination before the dawn attack. Things won’t be easy as they will not have the cover of night and they don’t know exactly where the enemy is and how to avoid them. Together they set out on the mission, one that will change both their lives and the lives of the men they are trying to save.
When it comes to telling a story like this, one that carries so much weight, there is not much to it as the story is all you need. For Mendes what he added to it was in how he decided to tell it, in what appears to be all one continuous shot. That effect turns a convectional war film into a thriller as you are glued to your seat throughout the entirety of the film. Both Mendes and legendary Cinematographer, Roger Deakins deliver something that is quite simply, magnificent to behold. It is because of the method they chose to follow these boys on this mission that enhances its effect in every way and leaving you memorized with what you are seeing. The film is led by two names you might not know, but the cast is stellar and filled with names like Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch. 1917 doesn’t just end up being one of the best films you will see this year, but also one of the best war films ever put on the silver screen. This will leave an indelible mark on you and as you marvel over the technical aspects of it, you should also remember the people the story is about, because they are the real heroes that deserve remembering.