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Sam Mendes’s 1917: A Cinematic Technical Achievement and a Solid Movie Too!

Best. Video Game. Let’s Play Video. EVER.

As you may have heard, Sam Mendes’s 1917 is a technical masterpiece; I am here to confirm that this is very much, true. It’s a panoramic, intense war drama that is meant to look like a two-hour two-take—yes, it’s insane! However, I am also here to confirm to you why 1917, for the most part, works as a fairly investing narrative. This is Sam Mende’s World War I version of Gaspar Noe’s Climax, and trust me, it’s surely going to leave a grand majority of its viewers in utter “awe.”

I am genuinely, downright clueless as to how Sam Mendes filmed 1917. Some of the most laborious planning and analytic methods must’ve been applied to this technical monument of filmmaking. Mendes is smoothly capturing clean-cut camera angles and movements across muddy, bumpy, and claustrophobic locations. It is unfathomable to even decipher how such a filmmaker and crew could’ve accomplished so much in such upsetting situations. It’s truly unbelievable.

As a character study, the movie isn’t too depth in the field, but it does allow us to connect and become attached to the two main characters of the motion picture. The comradery between Corporal Blake and Schofield is genuine and diverting, further adding stakes and investment to a movie that appears to be more prioritized in its visuals. Sure, we don’t learn about these individuals’ backstories, but we do get to see their personalities shine on display, further bringing us closer to them as if they were our own friends.

One of the supposed main shortfalls of 1917, according to some critics and audiences, is that there’s no apparent “substance” in the movie. While I do disagree with this statement highly, the themes presented in 1917 are—and I hate to use the word—a tad “cliché.” However, in a film that’s trying to focus more on the visually traumatic experience of war rather than the integrated meanings of the movie’s story, it appears justifiable for its subject matter to be so typical, and maybe a tad artificial. To say that the movie is completely shallow though would be a stretchy overstatement considering nearly every line of dialogue spoken in this entire movie is evidently filled with intimate yet obvious messages about the psychological drawbacks of World War I. 

There are a few more carps to be mentioned. If you hate characters making unsound, stupid decisions, 1917 is guaranteed to bother you. The cuts in 1917 are fairly detectable, howbeit, I feel like that isn’t really an issue that’s going to bug most folks. Honestly, it might be something I only noticed because I’m a total film geek and would, of course, spot out little complications like this. 

But, the second half of this movie… Let’s briefly talk about the cinematography by Roger Deakins. Mind EXPLODED. At this point in the legend’s career, it would be quite the task to argue against him being the greatest cinematographer of all-time. I will absolutely be buying the priciest edition of 1917 on UHD just to dumbly gaze at the incredible feat that Deakins has fabricated here.

1917 makes what could’ve just appeared as some bijou side mission seem like the consequential epic of a generation. If you love action movies, war films, or…video games, 1917 is the 21st century feature-length you desperately need to check out on the big screen. It’s not a cavernous examination of significances, but it is the “must-watch,” one-time, immersive action/drama experience of the year. This movie accomplished exactly what it set out to do, nothing more, nothing less, and that’s A-OK in my book. Bravo, Mendes. 

Verdict: B

2019 Ranked

“1917” will be released in select theaters on Christmas Day, and most theaters January 10, 2020.

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