Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
Want more? Listen to our discussion of '1917' on SWITCHCast
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Wake up - Daniel dives into the monumental animated classic 'Sleeping Beauty' on a brand new episode of Ink & Paint - click to listen now!x
review, 1917, 1917, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, George Mackay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Richard Madden, Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Daniel Mays, Adrian Scarborough, Chris Walley, Sam Mendes film rating

1917

★★★★

SAM MENDES' PERSONAL WAR STORY

THEATRICAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Charlie David Page
11th December 2019

Tales of war walk a precarious line: showing the bloodshed of battle without glorifying it, depicting the immense scale of devastation without breaking the budget, and generating emotion on an individual level in an event which affects potentially millions. The last film to truly accomplish this was 'Saving Private Ryan' (1998), which walked away with five Oscars for its troubles. Director and co-writer Sam Mendes ('Spectre', 'Skyfall', 'American Beauty') has attempted to tell his own family's war stories with '1917', but with a very modern and ambitious approach.

It's France on the 4th of April 1917. Lance Corporals Schofield (George MacKay, 'Captain Fantastic', 'Pride') and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman, 'Before I Go To Sleep', TV's 'Game of Thrones') are deep in the throes of World War I when they are entrusted with a near-impossible task: deliver a message to call off an impending attack on the enemy to save the lives of 1,600 British troops. With the clock against them, they must journey into enemy territory to ensure the information arrives before their fellow countrymen fall into the trap.

'1917' TRAILER

The missing piece of the puzzle is also the most prominent part of the film: the story plays out in real-time, as one continuous shot. It's a crazily ambitious technique that Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins ('Blade Runner 2049', 'Fargo') aim for, and it's a jaw-dropping success. The mise en scène is used effectively to immerse the audience in the chaos; we walk alongside our protagonists, see the dead and decaying bodies, feel the flecks of mud press against our flesh, and experience the gunfire as it resonates through our bones. There are moments of beauty, and yet even these cinematic achievements are instances of immense devastation - cautiously creeping through Écoust as the town burns around you is the pinnacle of the film's spectacle, both breathtakingly stunning and fiercely horrific. There are moments when the camera moves in incomprehensible directions that left me wondering, "How the hell did they just do that?!"

Therein lies the film's biggest problem, however: too often, I was left thinking about the camera's motion rather than about the story itself. There are numerous times when our leads interact with other characters where it comes off like a video game vignette; there's a shallowness to the correspondence that deprives the story of complexity or sincerity. There's too often a conscious awareness we're being led along a linear path, and that commits the film to a little predictability.

The story plays out in real time, as one continuous shot. It's a crazily ambitious technique that Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins aim for, and it's a jaw-dropping success.

That said, these moments are balanced by the superb work of MacKay and Chapman. Other characters in the story are present for a handful of minutes at most, so their performances are the tentpole which keeps this film aloft. Their dynamic is impeccable; Blake's singlemindedness in achieving their mission is driven by his brother's impending involvement in the attack, while Schofield offers a more cautious approach to their task. They are the multi-dimensional element of '1917', displaying bravery with fear, sadness and longing, friendship alongside loyalty, and imperfections that make them real soldiers. We go along on their journey because they aren't war machines, but real human beings who have found themselves in this incomprehensible horror.

The final element in this enormous project is the production design. Dennis Gassner ('Blade Runner 2049') has built a world with immense attention to detail, from the labyrinth of trenches to the ruined towns. Similarly, Lee Sandales' ('War Horse') set dressing is impeccable; the pairing of these two talents has reconstructed the environment of the First World War to a point where the camera can freely move in a 360-degree space. This alone reflects the effort executed by their teams.

I really wanted to give this film five stars, but there is a curious introspection that prevents me from calling it perfection. Nevertheless, '1917' is a brilliant piece of art, and clearly a personal project for Sam Mendes. Blending groundbreaking technology with detailed production components, it's sure to entertain audiences and garner respect from critics for its execution. Just don't say I didn't warn you when the Oscar nominations come out.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 09/01/2020
RUN TIME: 1h 59m
CAST: George Mackay
Dean-Charles Chapman
Mark Strong
Richard Madden
Andrew Scott
Benedict Cumberbatch
Colin Firth
Daniel Mays
Adrian Scarborough
Chris Walley
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
PRODUCERS: Pippa Harris
Michael Lerman
Callum McDougall
Sam Mendes
Jayne-Ann Tenggren
www.1917.movie
1917Film
1917
1917
Want more? Listen to our discussion of '1917' on SWITCHCast 
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
High Ground - Australia's cycle of violence
TRENDINGHIGH GROUNDAustralia's cycle of violence
Jungle - A true story told poorly
TRENDINGJUNGLEA true story told poorly
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
The Secrets We Keep - They kept a big secret... this movie is mediocre
TRENDINGTHE SECRETS WE KEEPThey kept a big secret... this movie is mediocre
xXx: Return Of Xander Cage - The good, the bad and the ugly
TRENDINGxXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGEThe good, the bad and the ugly
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Summerland - Sweet and sentimental
TRENDINGSUMMERLANDSweet and sentimental
Wrath of Silence - Action-filled mystery and scathing social critique
TRENDINGWRATH OF SILENCEAction-filled mystery and scathing social critique
Underwater love - Seven films to watch before 'The Shape of Water'
TRENDINGUNDERWATER LOVESeven films to watch before 'The Shape of Water'
Penguin Bloom - An inspiring true Aussie film
TRENDINGPENGUIN BLOOMAn inspiring true Aussie film
Music - Sia's feature debut falls flat
TRENDINGMUSICSia's feature debut falls flat
The Trouble with Being Born - Controversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
TRENDINGTHE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORNControversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
Dark Whispers Vol. 1 - A spooky anthology from Australia's female horror directors
TRENDINGDARK WHISPERS VOL. 1A spooky anthology from Australia's female horror directors
Boxing Day Movies 2020 - The year's biggest films bursting onto cinema screens
TRENDINGBOXING DAY MOVIES 2020The year's biggest films bursting onto cinema screens
Rams - Baaa-ck off
TRENDINGRAMSBaaa-ck off
Descent - Freediving from the depths of the human psyche to its peaks
TRENDINGDESCENTFreediving from the depths of the human psyche to its peaks
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Another Round - What a beautiful, beautiful ride
TRENDINGANOTHER ROUNDWhat a beautiful, beautiful ride
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!