REVIEW: 1917 - not the masterpiece some say but beautifully crafted, haunting and engaging

PUBLISHED: 15:41 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:41 14 February 2020

1917.  Picture: Universal/Amblin

1917. Picture: Universal/Amblin

Archant

The pair must race against time to deliver a message that will stop 1,600 fellow troops from walking into a deadly enemy trap.

Nominated for 10 Oscars, writer/director Sam Mendes charts one soldier's perilous journey across the war torn, First World War battlefields of northern France.

George Mackay stars as Will Schofield, a lance corporal in the British army, who together with his friend and fellow soldier Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is tasked with a crucial mission.

The pair must race against time to deliver a message that will stop 1,600 fellow troops from walking into a deadly enemy trap.

The freshly knighted Sir Mendes, who apparently wrote the script based on stories he was told by his grandfather, a veteran of World War One, teams once again with long time collaborator and Oscar winning cinematographer Roger Deakins. (Deakin's work earned him his second Oscar for cinematography)

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The pair filmed the story entirely from the young soldiers' point of view, giving the appearance of a single shot.

This method is revolutionary and gives the film a unique property as the camera follows the soldiers' journey across changing landscapes and terrain fraught with danger.

As a result, MacKay's Schofield is never off screen and with the entirety of the film hanging on his shoulders he excels. The script is not abundant with dialogue, but the actors' expressive facials do the work of a thousand words.

In a film littered with heavy weight cameos from the likes of Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch, MacKay shines and marks himself out as a talent to watch out for.

Chapman, known predominantly for his time on Game of Thrones, also gives a heartfelt turn as Schofield's close friend Lance Corporal Blake.

Perhaps due to the method of filming, the story itself feels a little one dimensional and is rather predictable in places, but this should not detract from what is an astounding technical achievement.

Overall, 1917 is not quite the masterpiece some would have you believe but it's a beautifully crafted movie and a haunting and engaging spectacle nonetheless.


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