Benedict CumberbatchColin Firth...
In 12 Cinemas
1917 has been publicised as a WWI one-shot film; a rare feature in the industry, which had many feeling sceptical about the outcome.
1917 follows soldiers Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George Mackay) as they head into the warzone on their assigned mission to cross behind enemy lines to deliver a message calling off an attack, the consequences of which would be the death of thousands of soldiers, including Blake’s brother. On a race against time, with so much at stake and in uncharted territory, their journey is as close as it gets to being impossible.
The core of the plot is simple, with a direct mission and course of action, but the complexity of the film comes from the craft of the storytelling itself. The feature barely concerns itself with the background of the war or even its main characters. Instead, it hones all its focus on the here and now, and gets the audience completely immersed in the characters’ journey.
1917 does that by following the one-shot method, which was the most publicised aspect of the feature. Of course, it’s not an actual one-shot movie; it was edited to look like one and is successfully executed. The amount of preparation and practice that the filmmakers took to produce the immersive results is excellent. You do feel you are with Blake and Schofield through the trenches and through every dark corner they venture into.
However, the immersion technique somewhat backfires, as many of the audience started paying less attention to the happenings of the story, and marvel more at the of the method. What amplified the distraction was the film’s dependence on the dialogue for depth and sophistication, yet it’s too hard to follow the conversation when you are busy thinking about how the camera moved so smoothly.
That also takes its toll on the emotional aspect of the feature, leaving the feature not nearly as passionate as it could and should be.
However, it has to be said, the set design is magnificent, with meticulously raw details evoking the desperate, hellish life the characters were living. The sound was just as captivating, used cleverly to the feature’s advantage.
For the acting, both Dean-Charles Chapman and George Mackay were very amicable and give strong enough performances, but were overshadowed by the film’s shooting technique.
1917 is an experience of its own, specifically made to be seen in movie theatres, even if you will spend the two hours following the camera in awe.