1917 Review

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Suspense-filled from beginning to end

After having literally left the theatre in shock and awe, my friend and I were baffled as we couldn’t find ourselves able to describe the film that we had just seen. This World War I-based drama had struck a chord with our visual interfaces and all we could do was just keep looking back at one another, wondering who was going to speak first about what we thought. Eventually, the silence broke and the air was filled with a steady “Uhhhhhh, so yeah”. We had been left all but speechless.

1917, directed by Sam Mendes, is an editing and cinematography-based wonder. The camera work on display and the way that the light played with the dark was mesmerizing. On top of that, the lack of dialogue and heavy focus on imagery really helped the tone that the film was carrying set in. What is that tone? Unsettling. Yes, whether it’s (spoilers by the way) the camera weaving through the soldiers until it falls on the main protagonist in his emotionally broken state, or the nail-bitingly tense shoot-out scenes, or even the moments of quiet because you know something is going to amp up the tone all over again.

Moving from the tone to the theme, the main one of 1917 may be linked with empowerment or the will to go on. However, I feel it more so falls within the realm of “war is hell,” and that despite what you do, you can’t save everyone. An example of this being the theme would be (spoilers again) near the end, where the camera floats over the injured and dying from the charge against enemy lines. Even the final scene, which initially feels peaceful, has a grieving and downtrodden air to it.

I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical going in, mostly due to the setting. “Oh, another war film. Time to tug at the heartstrings of the human condition once again,” I would say, only for the film to grab me by the collar and say “McCuse’ me with a large fries? What did you just say? I’m an empowering story of perseverance in the face of absolute failure, son!” And then, you know, swirly’s ensue or whatever.

On the same note, I had made a comment earlier in the month (during the Golden Globes) about how I was frustrated Mendes won both Best Director and Best Picture despite his film only being out for a week. Well, I would just like to formally apologize for that comment. He earned those awards, folks.

Without getting much more into it, I’ll just say that 1917 is a very suspenseful film that, as I mentioned above, well leave you with your jaw on the floor or your breath shortened significantly. If you’re on the fence about seeing this movie, allow me to verbally push you onto the side of seeing it. It’s a good film, a very, very good film.

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