Director Sam Mendes (Skyfall, Spectre) takes a break from Bond with this intense thriller set during the carnage of the First World War. Working with Glasgow-born writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, this is Mendes' first film as a credited writer, and grew from an idea planted by a story told to him by his grandfather. Where 1917 differs from other war films however, is that Mendes and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins have made the decision to shoot the film as though it is all in one continuous long take, ensuring that audiences feel connected to the characters every step of their nerve-wracking journey.
Schofield (Sunshine on Leith's George Mackay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are two young, inexperienced soldiers given a critical, impossibly dangerous mission to deliver a message across enemy lines. Failure could result in the death of 1,600 men - including Blake's brother. From here, the camera follows its two central characters through corpse-filled trenches, into pitch-black, claustrophobic bunkers, across the barren expanse of No Man's Land, and through bombed-out towns in real-time, tracing every agonising second of their expedition in meticulous, nerve-shredding detail.
Despite featuring a cavalcade of familiar faces in supporting roles (Colin Firth,Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Fleabag's Andrew Scott), 1917 is undeniably committed to its two central characters and utterly immerses the audience in their terrifying reality. Shot largely in vast exterior locations (making its all-in-one-shot approach even more impressive), Mendes and his collaborators have assembled an incredibly ambitious piece of cinema, one which, despite its pulse-quickening moments of tension, lays bare the horrors and devastation wrought by one of the worst conflicts of the 20th century.
Information published by Leisure and Culture Dundee.
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