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Movie review: 1917

10 Jan 2020 / 09:31 H.

AFTER two fan-dividing James Bond films, director Sam Mendes reminds us that he once directed brilliant films such as American Beauty and Road to Perdition.

1917 (which won for best director and best picture at the Golden Globes) is a different sort of war film.

Mendes, who based the story on his late grandfather’s own wartime experiences, creates an immersive experience for the viewer as we follow two lance corporals, Blake (Dean Charles Chapman aka Tommen Baratheon from Game of Thrones) and Schofield (George MacKay), who are assigned by General Erinmore (Firth) to hand a letter personally to Col. Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch), the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, ordering them to call off their planned attack on the German forces.

Aerial footage has shown that the Germans, whom they assumed have retreated, are in fact preparing an ambush.

Blake was chosen to send the letter as his older brother is in the 2nd battilion, and he unwittingly picks his very jaded friend Schofield to accompany him.

The journey is precarious as they not only have to watch out for enemies trying to kill them, but also contend with other dangers such as booby traps.

When Blake gets killed, it is left to a traumatised Schofield to travel alone to stop a massacre.

The plot seems simple but it is the way the story is delivered that makes it so different from other war films.

The whole movie looks like it was filmed in one single shot. The viewer essentially trails the protagonists (sometimes seeming to stand right in front of them) as they duck under barbed wire, run into tunnels, avoid getting shot and walk through never-ending trenches.

Cinematography and editing were smoothly intertwined so there is never a dull moment in pace.

There is a strong anti-war message, but what really sticks with you is the message that no one really ever wins.

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