1917 is the most ambitious war movie released in the 2010’s. After directing two Bond films, director Sam Mendes returned to his Oscar caliber roots. His well crafted exploration of the past deserved to win Best Picture, but the Academy looked to the future by awarding Parasite instead. So The Hurt Locker remains the final war movie to win Best Picture. Aside from Wonder Woman, not too many modern films have depicted World War I. It’s no secret that WWI was one of the most brutal wars ever fought. 1917 depicts the Hindenburg Line where Germans retreated during Operation Alberich.
It follows Lance Corporals William Schofield and Thomas Blake as they are tasked with delivering a message to stop an attack that will save 1,600 British soldiers. The simple plot is elevated by the decision to shoot it in one single take. Technically it’s two single takes, because it cuts to black at one point. Though like Birdman, 1917 is only filmed to look like one seamless take. Which is why it deserved its only Oscar wins for Best Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Sound Mixing. Schofield and Blake’s mission kept me on the edge of my seat.
They manage to evade enemy filled trenches, underground explosions, and active shooters. Although Blake has a personal reason to save his brother, his fight is tragically cut short. 1917 has a prestigious cast that includes small roles for Mark Strong, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Yet it’s lesser known actor George MacKay who steals the show. Schofield pushes himself through injuries, nighttime raids, and the most iconic scene where he runs through a battlefield. Only to be brushed off the moment they call off the attack. 1917 is an inspirational story of determination.