Review - 1917
Updated: Sep 26, 2020
1917 is a war film that tells the story of two young men on a mission to deliver a message that will save thousands of men from certain death.
The first thing viewers will notice about 1917 is the way it is shot. Not only is great camerawork from cinematographer Roger Deakins, who delivers fantastic lighting and framing (as usual), but how it never seems to cut. The film is shot using a technique that was used in Oscar-winner Birdman, where the editing in the film makes it look like it is all one seamless take. And, as much of a gimmick as it is, the film still looks stunning.
The never-ending shot of the film makes us stick with our two main characters throughout the movie and experience the war with them in real time, thus making the experience of watching the film much more tense than it would if it was edited with cuts. We are with these characters at every shot and explosion, and it is extremely nerve-racking.
But its not just the one-shot format that makes this film what it is. The performances that come from these characters are also great. They feel very real and add to the sense of urgency, as the genuine emotion coming out of these characters makes us care more deeply about them and what they must be going through.
The production design for the film is also spectacular. It sticks out because, being a one-shot film, every location had to be as long as it took for the actors to say their lines while getting across the set. This meant that the team behind 1917 had to perfectly calculate how long it took for the main cast to say their lines while walking through the many locations in the film and build the sets based on that data.
Not only that, but the very same production design succeeds at making it look like the film took place during the first World War.
Where the film staggers, however, is its script. While certainly not bad, nothing about the screenplay 1917's stuck out to me at all. The dialogue was mostly forgettable, adds little characterization to our main characters, and felt like it was only doing what it needed to do as apposed to what it could be doing. Yet, while it was obvious that writer-director Sam Mendes doesn't have much experience in this area of filmmaking, it wasn't awful. Like I said before, it does its job and delivered on what is besides that one flaw a very compelling film.
Here at The CinemaScope, we recommend this picture.
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