1917 (2019): The Things I Liked…

1917 (2019), George MacKay, Universal Pictures
1917 (2019), George MacKay, Universal Pictures

1917, the latest release from American Beauty (1999) and Skyfall (2012) director Sam Mendes is a memorable film that features all the great things we’ve come to know and love about Mendes’s work. 

Once again partnering with notable cinematographer Roger Deakins, a fair amount of the visuals and lighting in 1917 have stayed with me long after viewing. Especially in regards to at least two stand out scenes which involve running – and snippets of which you get to see in the film’s trailer

Dean Charles-Chapman and George MacKay who play two young British soldiers tasked with delivering a life or death message across enemy lines performed well. Anyone if not all with siblings can likely relate to the sense of urgency and arguably foolhardy determination displayed  by Charles-Chapman’s character, in his effort to get the message to his brother’s battalion. I for one started tearing up almost immediately. Finding myself moved and often at the edge of my seat as I wished desperately for a successful message delivery. 

The brotherly bond, humour, beautiful friendship and stunning moments of great cinematography definitely make up several of my favourite moments in 1917. However, I’m not sure that all those combined had me more excited and happy to be experiencing Mendes’s movie more than the scenes featuring the more seasoned actors. 

I’m sure that having been a long time fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Richard Madden had something to do with it. Maybe it’s the fact that their dialogue plus the ways their scenes were captured on screen was just incredibly arresting. Perhaps it’s their gravitas, great voices and excellent dramatic timing. Without a doubt, every scene featuring the above five actors were some of my absolute favourites. Especially Scott’s single scene and when we finally get to meet Cumberbatch’s Colonel MacKenzie.

In terms of what I wish were different about 1917, I’d say a bit more of an even pace and perhaps a slightly differently edited story because there were moments where I felt as though my surrender to the storyteller was interrupted with small moments of recognition that my expectations of how seamlessly everything would flow were not fully met. To put it another way, in some moments I got lost in the story in a great way, whereas other moments had me wishing I was that little bit more satisfied with it all; you know, kind of the way Green Book (2018) had me feeling and led me through the story in a way that proved completely satisfying.

I wouldn’t say overall that 1917 is my favourite war movie. That ‘highly prestigious’ title still belongs to The Hurt Locker (2008) – but it does have a fair amount of highlights you’ll be glad to have experienced.

Watch it and see.

Happy Film Loving


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