There used to be limited paths to glory, but rest assured it’s no longer All Quiet on the Western Front. Academy Award winner Sam Mendes’ latest movie redefines the war genre with one of the most spectacular stylized and stunning films ever. Permission to speak freely, we’re looking at THE best picture of the year with “1917.”
During the height of World War I in northern France, British soldiers Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George McKay) are dispatched for an impossible mission. The two young soldiers must enter No man’s land and deliver an important message preventing two British battalions of 1,600 British soldiers, including Blake’s brother, from being ambushed by the “retreated” Germans. Not knowing what lies ahead, the pair must give their all and accomplish the impossible by surviving the trenches and crossing into uncharted enemy territory.
Before I can compose anything else I must admit my girlfriend was right and acknowledge “1917” is unquestionably the Best Film of 2019. Despite my initial stubbornness I can absolutely agree she was right! Sam Mendes’ mesmerizing movie definitely deserves all of the hype and not since “Saving Private Ryan” has a war movie resonated with a more powerful, pitch perfect story entertaining on every level. “1917” is a generational genre movie that transcends and will go down as one of the finest films ever.
Coming back from franchise filmmaking with the James Bond series, Sam Mendes makes the most of his talents transforming a solid script to another amazing accomplishment. From beginning to end, “1917” keeps you on the edge of your seat. The twists and turns showing this astonishing adventure and story featuring frequent accidental heroism has become the first truly transcendental and exceptional war film of the 21st century. Joining the pantheon of legendary war films, “1917” will soon be held in the same regard as “Apocalypse Now,” “Platoon,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Thin Red Line,” and “Full Metal Jacket.” Some might argue well what about Academy Award winning war movies like “Hurt Locker” and “Black Hawk Dawn?” Sadly, those genre films failed to crossover and their esteem seems to be dwindling with each subsequent year beyond adamant fans. The primary reason, they lack uniqueness.
One of the most highly anticipated aspects of “1917” relies on Roger Deakins unique and unbelievable cinematography composed to seem like one continuous shot. The carefully choreographed shot seamlessly encompasses everything as we follow Blake and Schofield on their journey. The immense physicality and stunning stylization of moving from one atmosphere to another is absolutely breathtaking. The way Deakins captured bunkers, trenches, etc. creates a realistic nightmare and dream for the viewer during a two hour thrill-ride. It might have started out as a crazy concept, one single shot, but the transformative technique delivers unequivocally for one of the most unbelievable experiences ever.
Just a few years ago, our breaths were taken away by Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki’s revolutionary and Academy Award winning cinematography in “Birdman.” However, unlike Chivo’s cinematography, “1917” didn’t repeat sets and interiors, but created everything from scratch. The meticulous production design in England and Scotland by Dennis Gassner is unbelievable. Throw in the art departments, set decoration, costumes, makeup and special effects, “1917” delivers on all fronts. The exquisite editing done by Lee Smith certainly surpasses his Academy Award winning efforts with “Dunkirk” and absolutely commands your attention for the film to seem like one long shot in real-time. Without a doubt, “1917” will go down as one of the best films in movie history!
The pair of Lee Smith and Roger Deakins definitely deserves the dynamic duo moniker, but the chemistry of George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman wins you over immediately to setup an exceptionally entertaining movie. Their undeniable chemistry certainly captures the band of brothers mentality and the uncertainty of war. Their introductions in the film fantastically showcase simultaneously the naivety and pessimistic attitudes of war without coming across so preachy. Sam Mendes’ magnificent cast captures all of the disturbing and realistic attitudes of soldiers depending on their experiences. None better than through the breakthrough performance of Andrew Scott as Lieutenant Leslie, a British officer who assists the pair cross the German frontline and enter No man’s land. The rhythm of each scene succeeds by possessing an extremely impressive cast and creates an adrenaline rush for two hours straight.
“1917” is an absolutely astonishing and amazing feat. The unparallel and uncompromising vision of Sam Mendes will make you laugh, cry and cheer for two hours nonstop. Without a doubt, “1917” has raised the bar of what’s possible and proves “name” leading performers aren’t always a necessity when casting the right people. Inspired by Sam Mendes’ grandfather Alfred Mendes’ experiences during The Great War, this race against time story will wow audiences and cinephiles alike. “1917” persists as an exciting, entertaining epic destined to be remembered as the best war film of all time. I salute Sam Mendes and co. for bringing this film to life and can’t recommend it enough.
4 out of 4 stars
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