During any war, there are plenty of unsung heroes the names of which deserve to be known. While we assume it, there’s one thing we can’t deny – a battle created by man can be put to an end by man if one wishes.
“1917” follows two young British soldiers, Corporal William Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Thomas Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), who are assigned to deliver an important message to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) of the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. The message is to pull back a scheduled attack since the Germans had set up a trap that can cost the army lives of 1,600 men. The two begin their journey full of danger in a seemingly continuous shot directed by Sam Mendes.
When the film begins, it takes us straight to April 6th,1917, where we find William Schofield sitting under a tree when the two were called by General Erinmore (Colin Firth) with the crucial assignment. This is when we learn that Corporal Blake is chosen for the mission due to his impeccable ability to read maps. On top of that, the message he must carry out to Colonel Mackenzie directly touches Blake himself since his brother, Lieutenant Joseph Blake (Richard Madden), serves in the same battalion that is about to get attacked by the Germans.
As the two immediately depart to fulfill the order, the camera begins following them, creating an impression of a long shot that ends when the credits begin to roll. Owing to six months of rehearsals, George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman deliver outstanding performances by not missing their part even by an inch. Even though in certain scenes we can tell when the scene was cut and shift to the next, “1917” delivers a real-time-like war experience that is a revolutionary in its own way. However, let’s make no mistake, it can’t be compared with Sebastian Schipper’s “Victoria” that was shot literally in a single continuous take.
That said, “1917” offers a simple premise that has already been used. There’s nothing complicated about it whatsoever. However, it’s Mendes’ approach, his way of turning it into a complex beauty is what makes his film stand out. Cinematography by Roger Deakins and editing by Lee Deakins makes “1917” one of the most mind-blowing WWI dramas to date. Few scenes were incredibly difficult to shot but all that leaves the audience less worried, as everything happening before their eyes will transport them from the comfort of their seats straight to a terrifying era where men had to fight a war created by themselves.