1917: Perfectly Tiring
Updated: Feb 11
To describe what 1917 feels like, I need to describe the situation in which I saw it. My friend Luke and I have been eagerly anticipating this film from all the trailers we have seen… when we watch other movies we have also been eagerly anticipating. Sadly, the only seats open for us were the almost leftmost seats in the 3rd row, and we were surrounded by multiple audience members who believed that their thoughts deserved to be heard by everyone in the theatre, but as the lights in the theatre dimmed down and the first shot began, I forgot them all.
This movie, to say the least, is absolutely astonishing. Its most obvious feature, the pseudo one take that encompasses the entire film, is something that needs no introduction. And although some may say this feature is all that this movie is trying to accomplish, I have to refute. With this one take, this film makes you watch these two young men, played by George MacKay and Dean Charles Chapman, go through absolute hell and makes you unable to look away and focus on the tiring journey that this film centers on.
The story is subtle but poignant with most of the storyline being focused on action with small moments of peace lying in between. I must say, if you as a viewer, want a little bit more exposition when it comes to the characters, this film might not be for you. However, I do think that adding more character exposition to this film would ultimately cripple what this film is supposed to accomplish. You aren’t supposed to know these two men entire lives when the film ends, but understand that this story, with all its stress and trauma and hurt, is what a generation of young men, only a little older than me, went through.
Everything from Newman’s score to Deakin’s cinematography to MacKay’s and Chapman’s performance to Mendes’s direction is at the top of its game (And something even more astonishing is the fact that they had an actual baby not make any absolutely strange baby-like noises for an entire scene). Deakins basically teaches a masterclass in cinematography. All of the shots are beautiful on their own just simply as pictures; however, in true cinema, are compounded in its beauty in conjunction with score and movement and performances, making his work in this film something to put in the books as his best work. Thomas Newman’s score plays on his idiosyncratic characteristics with more tension than ever before, working perfectly with all other elements from lighting to camera movements creating moments that suffocate you to the point where all you want to do is scream (not in horror, but in just pure release).
In other words, this film makes you value every single aspect of cinema from production design to grips in a whole new light. So please, go see this movie in the biggest screen possible and let it take you.
1917 is playing everywhere