Time is the enemy
Time is the enemy

1917 (15)

D: Sam Mendes

Universal/Dreamworks/Reliance/New Republic/Amblin/Neal Street (Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, Callum McDougall & Brian Oliver)

UK/US 2019

119 mins


W: Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns

DP: Roger Deakins

Ed: Lee Smith

Mus: Thomas Newman

PD: Dennis Gassner

George McKay (Lance Cpl. Will Schofield), Dean-Charles Chapman (Lance Cpl. Tom Blake), Mark Strong (Capt. Smith), Colin Firth (Gen. Erinmore), Benedict Cumberbatch (Col. Mackenzie), Richard Madden (Lt. Joseph Blake)

1917 is solid proof that even the simplest of plots can be elevated into something spectacular by the magic of cinema.

Set in Northern France at the peak of the First World War, the plot follows a pair of corporals on a mission to deliver an important message deep behind enemy lines, failure of which could cause over a thousand men to lose their lives.

It's a story done a thousand times over, with a pair of characters going from A to B with various obstacles in the way, but what sets 1917 apart from the rest of the pack is the execution. 

Utilising a technique that makes the film look as though it's one continuous take, shot in real-time, director Sam Mendes takes us, as viewers, on the journey with the two soldiers for a painstakingly immersive cinematic experience, where you discover the landscapes beyond the trenches as they do. 

I could nitpick that the characterisation is minimal, but I could also argue that the reason this is so sparse is so the viewer can put themselves in the shoes of Corporals Schofield & Blake. Also, the actors do such a fine job that this really would be criticising for the sake of it.

From a filmmaking standpoint alone, this could possibly be the most technically brilliant film I've ever seen, due entirely to the logistics, staging & choreography involved in its creation. 

I have a rule of thumb that any film shot by director of photography Roger Deakins is a visual feast, and this proves the theory correct once again.

This isn't just the art of cinema at its finest, it's a bonafide masterpiece.