The Power of the Single Shot: “1917” Review
Seth Bogoslofski, Staff Writer
The Dec. 25, 2019 released film, “1917,” took the movie world by storm, winning awards such as an Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography and a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in the drama category. As the film opens up in a battered British trench, director Sam Mendes wastes little time diving right into the plot.
On April 6, 1917, during the First World War, German forces fighting on the Western Front had built a wall of concrete, steel and barbed wires. This barrier stretched across Eastern France, keeping British troops from advancing. The British’s Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment had believed to have the Germans on the run and had planned to attack their retreating troops. Waiting at the new Hindenburg Line, Lance Corporals, William Schofield and Tom Blake, were given instructions by General Erinmore to deliver an urgent message to Colonel Mackenzie, positioned with the Devonshire Regiment. The Germans had been planning for months to ambush this British attack. The message was to call off the attack, which would save the lives of 1600 men, including Lance Corporal Blake’s brother. The attack was set to occur the following day at dawn, causing the need for the soldiers to deliver the message as soon as possible. Schofield and Blake had now found themselves in a race across enemy lines and against time to save the lives of thousands of men.
Viewing “1917” was the closest thing to being put directly onto the battlefield alongside the soldiers. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The movie does a brilliant job of keeping the viewer on edge, causing viewers to question what is coming next and the action never stops.
The entire film is an account of events from Menedes’ paternal grandfather, Alfred Mendes. The true story gives off a feeling of uneasiness and suspense as soon as the two soldiers
leave the trench. The companionship has to first cross No Man’s Land, which is a mile of dangerous land rigged with traps. Crossing No Man’s Land was a perilous task, that could have ended the story as soon as it had started. Mendes’ ability to recreate the battlefield was impeccable, filming in England and Scotland.
The movie incorporates the camera as a third-member of the party, following the main characters throughout their entire mission. This was done by filming continuously in one single shot. Mendes chose to film the hour and 59-minute long film this way for a specific reason; the single shot style for this film was important to the director, as it was believed to portray the horrors the men endured as it follows the characters the entire time. The plot never stops from the very beginning and as time ticks down for the two soldiers, the viewer is with them every step of the way.
Scoring an Audience Score of 89% according to Rotten Tomatoes, verified reviewers have critiqued “1917” with nothing but applause. The fast-paced action puts the viewer directly into one of the most brutal wars in history. Paired with two extremely well-developed characters, Mendes also does an exceptional job at surrounding the two Lance Corporals with a cast of secondary characters to add to the dialogue. The movie flows at a fast-paced rate, separating itself from older war movies. Instead of following a journey of many weeks and months, “1917” explores the heroic adventure of two soldiers in a race against the clock spanning over hours.
“1917” with its impressive list of awards, received a rating of 8.5/10 on IMBD. I believe this was well-deserved and the rated R movie could be enjoyed by all suitable audiences. However, it should be noted the movie contains graphic content that depicts the true nature of war. The film can receive attention among generations of movie goers due to the realness of the entire movie. Teen audiences seeking to view a movie about the past, or older generations who
want to relive events they may be familiar with can both enjoy. Either way, “1917’s” exclusive single-shot style of filming provides any viewer with a war-movie experience like no other. The attention to detail of “1917” has won it the title of being one of the top-rated movies of 2019.