It is April 6th 1917 and the Germans have retreated from the front line in Northern France. Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and his best mate Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) are resting in a field. Blake is woken by his commanding officer and is requested to pick a man and bring his kit to the Officers’ quarters. General Erinmore (Colin Firth) has an urgent message for the troops on the front line.
A trap has been set by the German ‘retreat’ and an entire battalion 1600 strong, including Blake’s brother Lieutenant Blake (Richard Madden), will be massacred unless the message is delivered to Colonel Mackenzie by dawn. With his brother’s life in the balance, Blake has no choice but to accept. With nothing but his best mate, some ammo, rations and a couple of torches, the duo must cross no-mans-land into enemy territory and complete a seemingly impossible task.
Written, directed and produced by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall) comes an epic journey of survival that must be seen to be believed. The cinematography by Roger Deakins, who also worked on Skyfall, is something I have never seen before. The entire film feels like one continuous take and draws you right into the action, as if you are beside them the entire time. How Deakins achieves this, I will probably never know. The suspense is only heightened by the score from yet another Skyfall alum in, Thomas Newman. Having loved Skyfall, it is no surprise that this trio have created an absolute masterpiece.
Due to the cinematography as mentioned above, Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay need to be commended for their portrayal of Blake and Schofield. If anything, the single take method only enhanced their characters, leaving you cheering for these brothers in arms as they fight their way through to complete the mission.
1917 is one of the best war films I have ever seen. Not only is it a film about ‘saving the day’, it is also about the comradery of war. How as soldiers, they are willing to do what is needed to save those they care about the most.
I cannot stress this enough, 1917 deserves your attention. I was in complete awe the entire film. Even just writing about it makes me want to go and see it again, and there are not many films I have wanted to see more than once in over a year.
1917 is in cinemas from the 9th of January.