1917 is a consistently gripping and frequently harrowing story that brims with tension from start to finish. From the second its central heroes venture out into no-man’s land, you can’t help but feel on edge and expecting disaster at every turn.
Sam Mendes’ movie follows the fate of two young soldiers who are tasked with making a perilous journey into enemy territory in order to save the lives of thousands. George Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman are both excellent as the leads, capturing their determination and fear in equal measure.
1917 is one of the most immersive war movies in years and this is unquestionably due in no small part to Roger Deakins’ masterful cinematography. The decision to shoot the film as if it is one ongoing take is a masterstroke. Not only does it emphasise the relentless nature of the story, it also thrusts the viewer deeper into the narrative, forcing us to be a passenger on their journey, ducking every bullet and flinching at every shell.
There are countless beautifully constructed shots scatted throughout the movie, some of which you can’t help but marvel at how they were created. Mendes and Deakins capture the stark and haunting desolation of the front line perfectly with one fire-soaked night sequence proving particuarly spectacular.
Like a natural successor to Kubrick’s seminal Paths Of Glory, Mendes’ film captures the brutal slaughter of trench warfare in horrific detail, the squalor and claustrophobia heightened by the close quarter camerawork and “race against the clock” storyline.
1917 is a powerful movie, a thrilling adventure and a breathtaking technological achievement.