Arts & Culture

1917: A One Shot Wonder

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Sam Mendes’s 1917, Oscar nominee and winner of two Golden Globes awards, is one of the best war epics out there. Read further to gain a deeper insight into the film.

Opening with a shot of two soldiers relaxing under the shade of a tree in absolute serenity, Sam Mendes offers his audience the only moment in the entire film where they will not be holding their breath. 1917 follows these two British soldiers during the First World War as they are given the impossible task to deliver a message in order to possibly save the lives of about 1600 troops who would be walking into a trap set by the Germans.

The most popularly acclaimed aspect of this blockbuster film is Roger Deakin’s excellent work of cinematography as he presents a visual gimmick, making it appear as if the entire film was taken in one single, long shot. Deakins, along with editor Lee Smith, managed to stitch together 8-minute long shots to such perfection that they go unnoticed by the common eye. This feature of the film arrests the viewers’ attention from deviating, keeping their eyes glued to the screen and their bums on the edge of their seats.

The movie appears as a third-person video game where the two soldiers, Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) are your avatars and delivering the message is your mission. The only additional challenge here – the emotional stake, making you even more intensely engrossed and terrified.

The film also offers multiple picturesque sets and frames. Many stills captured are pictures worth thousands of words, with every little detail to be seen of great significance. The sets include 5200 meters of trenches, villages ablaze and lots and lots of corpses. Even with a lack of dialogue, especially towards the final 45 minutes of the film, the actors’ subtle yet vivid facial expressions, change in skin tones with the change in environment, brings about greater depth to the plot. In fact, in certain scenes even lack of expression altogether substitutes the need for dialogue.

Another crucial element of the film was its music composition by 14-time Oscar nominee, Thomas Newman. The soundtrack managed to perfectly follow the changing pace of the movie and create the required tension and terror. Instead of overlapping the melancholic mood of the film, the soundtrack complemented it. Newman managed not to overwork his magic by leaving long patches of silence creating a sense of apprehension among the audience, eager to know what would happen next.

Apart from its technical aspects, the film also introduces two new and relatively “unknown” faces to its audience- MacKay and Chapman. The two actors are, in a way, “not so special” in comparison to the supporting cast like Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard Madden. This allows the audience to view them as two ordinary soldiers with ordinary aspirations, giving them a more realistic picture of the war. The audience is also better able to relate to these characters.

Knitting together these various elements , 1917 proves itself to be one of the best war epics seen in the history of cinema. The 2 hour long film is an exciting journey for the audience that’ll leave them awestruck and equally content.

Feature Image Credits: Fandago

Aditi Gutgutia

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