I feel like World War II gets much more screen time than World War I does and for as much as I enjoy World War II films and shows, I will admit that I was very excited for 1917 from the first teaser trailer I saw. Now indeed there have been movies set in WW1 before but it has been awhile since a memorable one. Here we get a fresh tale from an accomplished director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Skyfall) with big acting names attached: Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Mark Strong. I was prepared for a tense thrill ride at our local AMC.
There are numerous strengths reporting for duty here in 1917. First and foremost for me, the cinematography is first class. Every scene just has a powerful vibe and each shot makes great use of foreground and background perfectly. The whole movie felt supremely authentic. Now obviously I was not a participant in WWI so I cannot say that it was 100% authentic but that is how the camera work makes it feel: like you were actually there. The cinematography team completely deserved their Oscar win for “Best Achievement in Cinematography”. Now as I mentioned in the intro, there are some big name actors in this movie but Dean-Charles Chapman (Lance Corporal Blake) and George MacKay (Lance Corporal Schofield) absolutely steal the movie with their performances. As they try to complete their mission you feel each emotion right along with them and it keeps you on the edge of your seat in a war movie that does not have the typical violence/action scenes you may come to expect. Which brings me to my next topic: the story telling is also fantastic. The writers did an excellent job making the movie seem exciting the entire 119 minute run time without that constant action that can bog down the story.
Now this is sort of unusual for me but I actually had no complaints about 1917. I felt like it was a complete movie. So nothing here in the weaknesses section. Move along soldier!
I was honestly blown away by 1917 even as I was so excited to see it. Sometimes it is hard to meet that expectation heading to the theater. This film has everything I was asking for: compelling story, great acting, and award winning cinematography. I highly recommend this one and can’t wait to watch it again soon. 1917 is a rare 0 Apology film and I think you need to see it.