Even with the best films, you can typically gauge your best opportunity for a quick popcorn or bathroom break.
Not this time. You must enter the First World War dutifully prepared.
The war epic, 1917, a Golden Globes winner for Best Picture and Best Director (Sam Mendes), tells the story of two young British soldiers at the height of the war, Lance Corporal Schofield (George McKay) and Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) as they are given a seemingly impossible task. With communication lines down, their fellow soldiers, the 2nd Devons, are unaware that the Germans have retreated and staged a strategic trap.
Against unimaginable odds, Schofield and Blake must cross enemy territory to deliver the message to stand down, which could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow soldiers—Blake’s own brother among them.
One epic long shot
One of the masterful feats of this film by Mendes and Academy Award-winning cinematographer, Roger Deakins, is the illusion of the one long shot. Step-for-step for two hours, the audience never takes their eyes off of Schofield and Blake – no cuts to new scenes – just one continuous shot.
Colin Firth, who plays General Erinmore, describes the intense preparation and work required by the entire production:
“…There is nothing to cover any mistakes. Of course, one does multiple takes, but not endlessly, and one of them will have to be perfect from beginning to end, from every point of view. You can’t edit. So, the tiniest slip means that the entire unit has to reset and go again.”
This cinematic experience thrusts the audience into a second-by-second vantage point for the perilous journey ahead for the two heroes.
Catch your breath if you can.
1917 begins in a field with soldiers resting, eating, waiting. This opening scene will be as much calm as Schofield and Blake will have as they begin their journey to warn the 2nd Devons.
Both expert maps-men and agile runners, the film shifts into high gear without warning, as the two soldiers traverse elaborate enemy trenches, body-filled craters, and bombed-out, deserted towns. In a race against time and questioning ‘who can we trust’, the two soldiers are laser-focused on the task at hand, carrying a message that is at best hard to believe to at worst, unbelievable.
Keep in mind, the front lines of any war frequently receive competing orders from Command – one moment retreat, another day move forward.
So, would anyone even believe the message if Schofield and Blake are somehow able to deliver it in time?
Don’t miss 1917 in theatres nationwide on January 10, 2020.