During World War I, two British soldiers — Lance Cpl. Schofield and Lance Cpl. Blake — receive seemingly impossible orders. In a race against time, they must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades — including Blake’s own brother.
Plot: April 6th, 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap.
Director: Clint Sam Mendes
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Runtime: 110 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Hard-hitting, immersive, and an impressive technical achievement, 1917 captures the trench warfare of World War I with raw, startling immediacy.
“One of the best war films ever made.”
I need to keep this short and sweet, I don’t want to spoil anything.
On 6 April 1917, aerial reconnaissance observed that the German army has pulled back from the Western Front in northern France. This is not in retreat, but a strategic withdrawal to the new Hindenburg Line where they are waiting to overwhelm the British. Inside the British trenches, with field telephone lines cut, two young British soldiers, Lance Corporals William Schofield and Tom Blake are ordered by General Erinmore to carry a message to Colonel Mackenzie of the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. Why? They are in dire need of calling off a scheduled attack that would jeopardize the lives of 1,600 men, including Blake’s brother Lieutenant Joseph Blake. The two leave immediately the deliver the news!
As Schofield and Blake start their journey they cross no man’s land to reach the abandoned German trenches. When they reach the trenches they find an underground barracks and ultimately discover a booby-trap tripwire, which is promptly triggered by a lone rat. The massive and dangerous explosion almost kills Schofield, but Blake saves him and the two narrowly escape being buried alive. They then arrive at an abandoned farmhouse, where they witness a German plane being shot down — cue the scene in the trailer.
What happens from here? What unfolds? Did he do it? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
In conclusion —
1917 was a movie that I was looking forward to, but didn’t know I needed. I had to sit through the trailers time and time again, not including hearing the raving reviews as time drew closer — the anticipation was high. After seeing it in theaters and again last night, this is one of the best war films ever made. When you think of the greats, what do you think of? For me it’s Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, Letters from Iwo Jima, Platoon, The Thin Red Line and more recently, The Hurt Locker and Dunkirk. There are more films that would make that list, and the good news is, this one will cement itself right in.
When you first heard that this movie was made to look like it’s “one single take,” you probably thought it was a selling point or a gimmick, but it’s the real deal. This movie is just under two hours long, but feels like it’s half of that. Why? You are moving from scene to scene, fight to fight and situation to situation. When I first saw this in Dolby Cinema I was either on the edge of my seat or fidgeting with my hands because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.
I go to the movies a lot and I’ll usually check my watch a time or two to gage how much longer a movie has left — I didn’t do that here, this movie is full entertainment start to finish. I saw one reviewer say he “felt like he couldn’t breath” — I would agree with that statement, but know that, even though it doesn’t make sense, this was said as a good thing.
With my second viewing I knew what was going to happen, so I got to enjoy the masterful work that both Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins brought to the big screen. I’m reviewing this on Blu-ray, but know that I will be purchasing the UHD edition too because I need it in the best possible format available.
Beyond all of that, you’ll get a slew of bonus features that include; ‘The Weight of the World‘ with Sam Medes discussing his personal connection to WWI, ‘Allied Forces‘ which highlights making the movie and ‘The Music of 1917‘ which has composer Thomas Newman discussing the score. That’s just the start, there’s more behind the scenes footage, recreating the First World War and feature commentary with both Director Sam Mendes and Director of Photography, Roger Deakins. It’s a gold mine of bonus material!
Taking everything I’ve said into account, 1917 gets my recommendation for an automatic day-one purchase, as a matter of fact, it’s a must own! Do yourself a favor, grab a copy at your local retailer on 4K or Blu-ray March 24th. You won’t be disappointed. It’s one of the best films of 2019, don’t sleep on it.
Did you catch 1917 in theater? Were you a fan of this movie? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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