1917 user review

  • Mendes and Deakins deliver a powerful portrait of the First World War

    Glad I found the opportunity to see this, certainly a big screen outing for it is a must.

    Engaging from the first frame to the last (thanks in most part to the stunning direction and cinematography), I was captivated by the journey of our two protagonists and the simple yet vital mission on which they embarked. A race against time to deliver a message to call off an attack on a German line - that will needlessly result in the death of many allied soldiers.

    Authentic, inspired, daring, compassionate - it managed to encapsulate all the toils of war, whilst only needing to give us a glimpse of the wider confrontation.

    Both leads were well cast, and I wasn't
    expecting Blake to depart the mission so soon
    However that opened up the journey and made the personal battle and sacrifice all the more compelling.

    The film itself flowed beautifully from one set piece to the next. Dean Chapman perfectly portrayed the determination, anguish and turmoil of a wounded soldier - both physically and mentally - and brought a believable human element to the horror of war. There was no time to grieve; for remorse or for regret - the war never stopped for these things - and that toll whilst too much to bear, had to be carried at all times. Mendes made sure there was never any moment we didn't see Chapman bearing this toll, and the film at no point gave us any guarantees that we would see the mission succeed. This heightened the drama throughout, and in particular I found the final moments amongst the trenches enthralling.

    Behind the camera the much heralded cinematography was indeed astonishing; and will no doubt give Deakins the reward he deserves come Oscar night. As was the direction, and Mendes could easily take away that prize as well. In fact there's nothing to suggest the film itself won't walk away with both major prizes. And who could argue this shouldn't be the case. Thomas Newman's score was immersive, serving up all the right notes at just the right points. A great mix of solo instrumental and low-end percussion; accentuated during key moments to add gravitas to scenes where there was no dialogue - and also to ably replace it.

    Up there for me with the war film greats, I hope everyone here gets to see it before it's cinema run finishes. And in a year of some very high quality releases, I think it just may have managed to top the lot.



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