Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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- Sony 85 inch X950H FALD TV
I’m a bit picky on war films, especially ones relating to the two major world wars we’ve had. It’s not that I don’t like them, but that they tend to be over done and overly cliched. Back in the days of John Wayne we had TONS of WWII films, so much so that they began to be over done and rather trite. However, there are some true greats to the war genre, and some that subvert our expectations with harrowing realism. Sam Mendes’ (Spectre, Road to Perdition, American Beauty) most certainly subverts many’s expectations with with 1917, creating a a film that taut, tense, and more realistic than most war films out there. All the while keeping the action to a minimum and using stunning “single shot” photography thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins, which results in a very unique and low key dramatic war film.
It’s April 6th, 1917, and the World War I allies are taking a breather from vicious trench warfare in France until the German’s suddenly pull back for some reason. The British forces entrenched there see this as an opportunity to strike, and set forth 2 battalions of men to lead this charge. However, British air reconnaissance sees the bigger picture and realizes that the German forces are just re-grouping with back up forces down the road in an effort to bait and trap the allied forced in their over eager assault on the retreating Germans. General Erinmore (Colin Firth) grabs two young Lance Corporals under his command, ones Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George McKay) to sneak across enemy lines and relay the new discovery to Colonel McKenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) before the Colonel sends out the order to attack and sends both of his battalions to their deaths.
While the movie does have some big name actors in the credits (Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth), these big names are really there as support characters, while George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman take the huge brunt of the character development. That’s not to say that they are not important though, as each interaction with these big names adds weight and story turning points for the two boys. Still, Dean and George are the true focus of Mendes’ story, and he keeps you so invested in the two boys that the 2 hours run time just flies by in what seems like half the time.
Rated R for violence, some disturbing images, and language
• Allied Forces: Making 1917 - Learn how the one shot, 360-degree format was executed and the pivotal role Academy Award® winner Roger Deakins served in bringing Sam Mendes' vision to life.
• The Music of 1917 - Composer Thomas Newman and filmmakers discuss the important role of the Academy Award®-nominated score.
• In The Trenches - Go behind the scenes with the cast of 1917.
• Recreating History - Filmmakers offer a detailed look at the production design challenges of recreating the First World War.
• Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Sam Mendes
• Feature Commentary with Director of Photography Roger Deakins.
1917 is a great war film, and does so by being very intimate and restrictive on the story line. It’s not some massive sweeping epic, but rather focuses on 2 single characters and the harrowing journey to deliver a SINGLE message. A message that single handedly could save the lives of over 1600 men on the battle front. It’s taught, hauntingly beautiful, and well directed from beginning to end. The Blu-ray is simply fantastic, with picture perfect video, and about as perfect an audio mix as you can get. The extras aren’t bad either, being substantially more than the typical new release (at least in today’s day and age of meager extras). Well worth checking out.
Starring: Dean-Charles Chapman, George McKay, Daniel Mays, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Colin Firth
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish DD+ 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 24th 2020
Recommendation: Great Watch