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1917 Movie Review

War, What Is It Good For?

An endless number of World War II stories have been committed to film. Earlier in the history of cinema, WWI was a popular topic too, but as time passes, WWI has faded from our collective memories, and because of this, it has virtually disappeared from the screen.

Sam Mendes, who is best known for directing "American Beauty" and "Revolutionary Road," has brought WWI back to theaters with "1917," which presents a very narrow story that we are told is based on true events.



"1917" concerns two British foot soldiers, Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay), who are stationed in France. They are sent on a mission that, if unsuccessful, will lead to the massacre of thousands of British soldiers, including the brother of Blake. Blake has been selected for the mission and told to choose another to join him. He chooses Schofield because that's his buddy. Schofield isn't delighted by this, but he has no choice.

The mission is for the two young men to get to the front lines of an attack the British have planned against the Germans before the attack launches, and prevent it from taking place. Command has received word that the Germans have lured the British into the attack and that the British will be slaughtered by the ambush.

The rest of "1917" is about the inevitable obstacles that the soldiers must overcome in order to short-circuit the attack and prevent the massacre. Mendes shoots the film in a way that allows the viewer to share the experience of the two main characters. Granted, no one is shooting at you while you're watching it, unless of course you're sitting among a particularly criminal audience.

loaading...
About a half-hour in, Mendes does offer a twist that I didn't see coming, but after that "1917" is pretty much a paint-by-the-numbers war flick. It looks real enough and there are plenty of lively moments, perhaps even too many. Mendes doesn't take his foot off the pedal for more than enough time for you to catch your breath, which sounds good as I write it, but I found it a tad grinding in its relentlessness.

Otherwise, "1917" left me feeling very manipulated. I understand that manipulation is part of every story, but I don't enjoy being so aware of it while it's happening.

Mostly, "1917" is a pretty straightforward war film and it's exciting enough, but it failed to keep me wondering how it would turn out. This might be because it's tough to remain on the edge of your seat every minute. Eventually you get worn out and begin to yearn for an ending, no matter what that ending is. When you finally learn the ending, you don't really care anymore. You're just glad it's over.


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About Udara Madusanka

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