Sam Mendes, he of James Bond fame, returns with his much anticipated, and much talked about, new film, 1917.
The film is made in such a way as to appear to be all one continuous shot, it isn’t, just to get that straight from the start, that would be something else entirely, but the way Mendes and his crew have put it together to appear as one, long, continuous shot is remarkable.
We saw the film at a Dolby cinema, so it was in both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, both of which are breath-taking. The level of detail from the picture is superb, whilst the sound is pinpoint accurate.
This all helps with the immersion that the one-shot provides in the first place, you feel like you are with Lance Corporal Blake, Dean-Charles Chapman (“The Commuter“, “Game Of Thrones (TV)”) and Lance Corporal Schofield (“Captain Fantastic”, “Pride”) who are, it must be said, brilliant in their respective roles.
The two men, young boys really, are sent on a special mission: to reach a battalion who are deep into enemy territory, believing they have the German’s on the back foot. But that’s not the case at all. It’s a trap. The Germans are waiting for the battalion to attack and the boys must deliver a message before they do, to stop the massacre.
The boys must reach the battalion before they go over the top, for Blake there’s an added incentive, his older brother is a Lieutenant in the battalion.
These elements provide the story with an incredible level of tension, you are on the edge of your seat, ducking and weaving with the boys, it’s exhausting, breath-taking stuff.
And the one-shot? Well, I can fully appreciate the level of planning that must have gone into it, it’s an amazing achievement. But it also takes some getting used to. You are waiting for the cuts, expecting them, as that’s what we’re used to, but they never come.
Talking of planning, think about making a movie that is one, long, continuous shot. You never leave your protagonists, it means every scene must involve them and it has to give you, the viewer, something exciting, meaningful and moving to watch.
Mendes achieves this with aplomb. It’s fantastic writing from the man and brilliant directing to then bring it all together in a way that just works.
There are a few questions marks, I won’t say issues per-say, but there are times when the boys use their skills and engage in the warfare that’s around them, whilst at others there appears a reluctance from them.
I’m trying to figure out if Mendes is trying to say something deep and meaningful with it, but I’m so drained from watching 1917 that I’m as lost as the boys should be without map, compass and for all they go through…
10th January 2020
THE QUICK SELL
Two young British soldiers during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldiers' brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap.