Stunning, breathtaking and exhilarating, Sam Mendes’ 1917 instantly becomes a classic in its genre.
In 1917, two young soldiers are given the task to deliver a message that could save over a thousand soldiers from an ambush.
Mendes has never shied away from sensitive topics. I have always admired his knack for portraying suburban America with a uniquely realistic and poignant touch. After backing away temporarily from them with his two Bond films (Skyfall and Spectre), he’s back stronger than ever. Using best elements of human interaction he had so expertly mastered applied in a war film, combined with a visual experience like no other, Mendes has perhaps created his best film since American Beauty.
From the first shot, you can tell you’re in for something extraordinary. The almost surreal experience that Mendes, along with cinematographer Roger Deakins create from start to finish, is nothing short of remarkable. From the sweeping, intense sequences of war to the short tender moments of character interactions, the film rarely misses a beat, and there’s a certain point in the story where you get so invested in lead character Schofield that it’s hard to prevent yourself from jumping from your seat.
Deakins has proven to be one of the best cinematographers alive, and with ‘1917’, he cements this legacy. The “single-shot” effect is far from a gimmick; instead, it works as a framework for the film that helps you feel like you’re living the war with the main characters, an emotion that I couldn’t see working any other way. There is, in particular, a shot by the climax of the film that involves running that is so breathtaking, suspenseful, and emotional that it will take many days to take off my mind.
There are several actors that only cameo, but that adds to the unexpected quality of the war, and newcomer George MacKay stuns in a performance so real and incredible that it never bores. He commands the screen like a true professional.
In a way, the film is constructed in such a specific fashion that I can’t see myself enjoying it as much in my home as I did in the theater, but that’s what makes it so unique, too, in my opinion. It might not be for everyone, but if ‘1917’ at least slightly intrigues you, you are in for a shockingly great cinematic experience.