1917 Review

Justin Peters, Entertainment and Arts Editor

I’m gonna be honest, I call war movies “bore movies” for obvious reasons. Except for the special few (Full Metal Jacket, Inglourious Basterds, Saving Private Ryan), they’re all pretty much the same. I could go on and on listing the similarities, but I’ll just say one: all of them take place during World War II, and for good reasons. World War I is BORING. It was a boring war, started for boring reasons, and it did not end all wars like it promised to. Why would anyone make a movie about it? However, director Sam Mendes made 1917 (a movie about WWI) so darn good, that I just have to talk about it. This may possibly be the only time I ever nerd out over WWI, so strap in.

The date is April 6th, 1917. The German army has pulled back from a sector of the Western Front in the north of France. General Erinmore (Colin Firth) briefs two young British soldiers, Lance Corporals, Tom Blake (Dean Charles-Chapman) and Will Schofield (George MacKay). Aerial reconnaissance has spotted that the Germans are not in retreat but have made a tactical withdrawal to their new Hindenburg Line, where they are waiting to overwhelm the British with artillery. With field telephone lines cut, Blake and Schofield are ordered to hand-deliver a message to the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, calling off their planned attack, which might cost the lives of 1,600 men including Blake’s brother Lieutenant Joseph Blake (Richard Madden).

The whole movie is filmed in the “one-shot” technique. This means that the film looks like it was shot in one take, but film has splices where it moves from one take to another. In total, the film has 34 cuts, which is astonishing. The splices are kind of obvious, but they’re so smooth, you barely notice. On top of that, the performances are insanely good, the score is sinister in it’s tone, the special effects are spectacular, and it’s historical accuracy is maybe a little too accurate. All in all, this film is one that no film buff and/or WWI buff (if such a person exists) should miss.

GRADE: A