Today I finally saw 1917. All the accolades for director Sam Mendes’ film about World War I, are deserved. Those who follow this blog know that the history of this tragedy continues to haunt and fascinate me.
A year ago, I posted a review of They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson’s documentary of the conflict, based on digitally enhanced film taken during the war, and recorded interviews with veterans. Jackson’s film is brilliant, but no movie I’ve ever seen gives as visceral a feel for life in the trenches as 1917. The mud, the rats, the bodies, the stench of dead horses in no man’s land and the constant shelling are vividly depicted. As Mary observed, it’s clear where Tolkien found the imagery for Mordor! Mendez includes key historical details, such as the chalky soil of Flanders and the sophistication of the German trenches, built with with reinforced concrete.
Although Mendez states that the story and central characters are friction, he grew up listening to stories told by his grandfather, Alfred, who carried a critical message across no-man’s land, under sniper fire, during the battle of Passchendaele in late 1917.
As many reviewers have noted, one detail of the cinematography is stunning – the entire movie is filmed with just one cut. The result is the feeling of being right with Blake and Schofield as they struggle to cross a deadly wasteland in their race against the clock, with a message that must be delivered by morning to save the lives of 1,600 of their comrades.
This is an unforgettable movie that I highly recommend!