An unforgettable war story

1917 tells the story of two men taking on an impossible task


Photo courtesy of Variety

1917 shows the horrors of WWI and how far soldiers were willing to go to save one another.

Elizabeth Hahn, Entertainment Editor

World War I was the first time multiple nations across the world allied together and fought against one another in battle. It was a bloody war with millions of casualties. There are countless movies that capture the events that occurred during WWI, however, a new take on this war comes in the form of the film 1917.

This movie follows Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) on a seemingly impossible journey. The two receive orders to stop an attack on the Germans that soldiers from their country, including Blake’s brother, were planning on carrying out the following day. The battalions that were set to carry out this fight were unaware of how outnumbered they were and were oblivious to the massacre they were potentially walking into. The two corporals were told to cross enemy territory and “no man’s land” to the site of the potential tragedy. They face an impossible task and grave dangers on their journey, but it’s captivating to see how these men stand up against these odds to save thousands.

1917 is roughly based on a true story. Director Sam Mendes used inspiration from a story his WWI veteran grandfather told him. Though it is clearly a dramatized version, it is interesting to see the kinds of events that were happening back then. People were put in serious danger to save fellow soldiers. I’m not one to go and see war movies, but I think the fact that it is more or less true makes it more of a must-see.

Another incredible element of this film is that it appears to be a one shot. Each scene passes on to the next seamlessly. As I was watching, I wondered if they filmed it all in one take because it looked like cuts were nonexistent. Come to find out, the people who worked on this movie did cut, but they also made sure that these cuts were not easily noticed to the audience. Making the film appear this way was satisfying to say the least. The flow from scene to scene was clean, which made it easy to follow throughout the two hours of the movie. 

This film did a impressive job portraying the horrors of this fight as well as trench warfare. During WWI, the trenches were riddled with diseases, rats and hundreds of soldiers. It was horrible living conditions and the movie accurately presented that. Scenes showed Blake and Schofield, pushing through soldier after soldier, some looking to be on the brink of death, while preparing to leave for their journey. There were super-sized rats everywhere they went. While disgusting, these features made the movie feel more real. 

Also, there were bodies all over the war sites. Throughout the film, casualties were seen lying in most frames, as the two soldiers covered the terrain. It was a raw way to show the terrors of the war and what actually went down. There were moments where I could hear the people in the theater react to something revolting that happened on-screen. This interpretation gave the audience a view into what this war was really like.

1917 gives audiences a new kind of war movie. 

It was emotional to see the two soldiers in these terrifying situations, but it gave a powerful message to not give up no matter how hard it gets. Others have noticed how incomparable this movie is to other war movies, which is shown through the numerous awards it is nominated for. Over the weekend, this film won seven BAFTA awards and is nominated for a number of Golden Globes and Oscars, including Best Picture.

Overall, 1917 is worth the time and money. It brings a new view into war and transports the audiences into the scenes that are unfolding. The acting by MacKay and Chapman was admirable, both giving performances that clearly showed the emotions of the characters in the situations they were put in. Everything about the film, from the cinematography to the way characters were portrayed, was executed in a way that is deserving of awards. It was beautiful to watch, despite the gruesome events that unfolded. Despite some people’s distaste for war movies, this one is worth it and tells a remarkable story of bravery and determination.