Why “1917” is more than just another World War movie

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Sam Mendes’s way of portraying war takes viewers into a two hour journey of real life heroes with a captivating cinematography like no other.

Viewers shouldn’t worry about “1917” feeling like another history lesson. The movie stands apart from other patriotic dramas by the way it’s shot. Cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall 2012) and Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty 1999) were in charge of telling this story in what looks like one continuous take.

Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns wrote the script inspired by Mendes’s grandfather who fought in World War I, giving it a more personal feel that is easy to connect with.

Spectators will leave theaters understanding the attention the film has been receiving. 1917 has been taking over the award season, landing seven wins in the 73rd British Academy Film Awards including Best Cinematography and Best Direction as well as 10 Oscar nominations. 

This World War I film follows the horrible journey of a pair of British soldiers (Mackay, Chapman) who get sent by the general (Firth) to deliver a message trying to stop an attack. During their quest against the clock, both soldiers have to cross enemy territory to get to the front-line troops. 

The mission takes them through many battles and dead bodies. The longer they are in unknown territory, the faster they need to run. Every scene is full of beauty and hopelessness keeping the audience on their toes. 

Although it looks like “1917” was shot in one take, it was cleverly edited from a series of uncut scenes to give the feeling of a single shot. It takes a step forward by having continuous action scenes and constant change in location never showing the same landscape twice. 

It took the cast and crew over four months in advance to rehearse all scenes to avoid any mistakes while filming. The use of natural lighting was a key component since artificial lighting could ruin the realistic feeling of 1917. A bigger challenge was the 360 degree camera movement throughout the movie, allowing the camera to only go forward. 

The film has made over $250 million at the box office with a cast including legends like Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch along with George Mackay, Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones) and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones.) With a score by Thomas Newman and the atmosphere created by production-design, audiences immerse into this tense history adventure that gives no time for bathroom breaks.