An ambitious war film for an audience bored of war films: A 1917 review

Evan Wyatt, Staff Writer

1917 is the critically acclaimed film about two British runners in World War 1 given a seemingly impossible task. Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George Mackay) have to deliver a message to a forward battalion to cancel an attack on what they think is the retreating German line, but it is actually just a trap. The tension is heightened further by the fact that Blake’s brother is  an officer in the advancing battalion. 

What immediately sets this film apart from others is its shooting style. The film is edited and shot in a way that it seems the film is two long takes; one being the first half of the movie, the other being the second. This style serves this film incredibly well in that it serves the setting in a great way. The opening shot of the film is the two main characters sitting on the edge of the field, and within 20 minutes, they are crawling across no man’s land with no breaks. The shooting style helps the viewer understand the space the characters occupy, emphasizing how open and desolate the landscape of no man’s land is and how tight and claustrophobic the trenches and dugouts are. The cinematography of this film is absolutely beautiful, definitely deserving of its Oscar nomination. 

The two main actors also do a great job. Although one of my criticisms of the movie is that I believe the characters are rather one dimensional, Blake being an eager soldier hunting medals and Schofield being a stoic medal winner who just wants to go home, I genuinely commend both of the young actors on their performances because I still cared deeply about both of them.

While I did enjoy both halves of the movie, the second one was definitely a little lacking in my opinion. For me, and this is kind of hard to explain, the pacing just felt off. I felt, as an audience member, I had to suspend some disbelief for a while. While this is kind of par for the course for a lot of war movies, it was disappointing after such a realistic, gritty first half where it felt much more genuine.

Overall, however, I highly recommend this movie to anyone, not just fans of war movies. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the movie, although there are definitely some scenes that will make you want to put your popcorn away (props to the makeup department). Don’t be surprised if 1917 wins a couple Oscars.