When we talk about "1917" in the future, and oh we will, much talk will regard around the movie appearing as if it was one continuous shot. As impressive and amazing the look of "1917" is, its not the first movie in history to pull this off. The first example I have came as far back as 2011 with "Silent House." Its a horror movie and one of the first to star Miss Elizabeth Olsen. What makes the continuous shot elevate the movie is it truly feels you are running around the house with Olsen, you are hiding with her, you are trying not to scream along with her. You never get a moment to breath, something terrible is always happening. "Birdman" from 2014 also felt like one continuous shot, and that just made the experience stranger and actually more hilarious. It felt like you were there along with the characters, engulfing in the trainwreck on display.
What makes "1917" powerful and provocative is because of the one continuous shot, it feels like you are the third man on this mission. You are the other trooper along with Lance Corporal Will Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) who is trying to get a handwritten level to the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment to call off an attack. The regiment thinks the Germans are retreating, but what they are really doing is regrouping to a line, filled with more German soldiers. If the attack commences as planned, 1,600 British soldiers could die, one of whom is Blake's brother Joseph (Richard Madden).
It seems like every few years, somebody comes along and tried to further the definition of a war movie. To prove even further that war is hell. While "Black Hawk Down" does an incredible job fitting this definition, "1917" does indeed further this definition as well. "1917" is a marvelous thing to just look at. Its a massive achievement in just about every arena. The cinematography is beautiful, the editing (or perhaps a lack thereof) is remarkable. How music and performance and set and material all clash is something to behold.
We haven't received too many World War I movies. There have been plenty of World War II movies but not too many made about World War I. They are obviously very different wars in many ways, and I love that this movie highlights that. We run through No Man's Land, we see how fighting and brutality was different. We see how the war affected people differently. The two Lance Corporals see many things on their way to deliver their message and you get a crash course in what World War I must have been like.
Chapman and MacKay are both amazing in this. Selling just how much war is hell through their performances. There are tons of confusing times in this mission. There are plenty of emotional times throughout this mission. They sell every moment of it. There are tons of great actors who come in and out and they all make their mark. There's Mark Strong who is always reliable. There's Benedict Cumberbatch who is also always reliable. Andrew Scott, who does such a great job on Amazon Prime's "Fleabag" shows up and does some incredible work. You've probably seen just about all of Colin Firth's performance in the trailers for the movie, its brief work by Firth but he makes every second count. It's a very well acted film.
There is a good reason why "1917" won the Best Drama Film at the Golden Globes not that long ago. I am sure it'll have a nice night in February too. It deserves anything it can possibly win. "1917" is an unforgettable experience.
FINAL GRADE: A+