“1917” is an epic war film directed by Sam Mendes and stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman. The film tells the story of two young British soldiers on a quest to deliver a message to another battalion during World War 1. The story is a simple one that never goes for the grandeur of other war films and instead goes for a gripping realism that immerses you in the war.
The director uses hidden cuts to give the film the appearance of being shot in one continuous take. This technique gives the film an almost non-stop pace and keeps the characters constantly moving. The action feels personal and the challenges the characters face on their mission feel never-ending; it surprises one with how quiet the film can be. The film earns these moments because you feel like you are with these characters when they get into trouble. The characters never feel safe even in moments out of combat, where you sit in dread waiting for danger just like the characters do.
The immersive element of the movie is made so much more impactful due to the fantastic performances of its leads. Actors George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman give characters humanity without feeling unique or extraordinary. They feel like faceless soldiers rather than heroes of a war. Their moments with each other never feel like actors competing for Oscars like in lesser war movies, but real people who are just ready to go home. This goes for the rest of the cast as well who help give the world life with crushing realism.
The most impressive part of the movie is its sound design. Every shot or explosion rings out and hits hard and reinforces the threat our characters face. The score is minimal and never goes for cheap sentimentality, instead, it subtly underlines the fantastic scenes.
Those familiar with Mendes’ work on the previous Bond films may be a bit surprised about the dark and serious tone this movie goes for, but for those who are ready for a film that immerses them in the awful world of war, they will be rewarded with a film that is worth experiencing. 4.5/5