"1917": A technical and emotional marvel

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Courtesy Universal Pictures | The Daily Wildcat

George MacKay as Lance Corporal Will Schofield in "1917" (2019).

Late into 2018, I saw an untitled World War I film on IMDb’s upcoming movies list featuring big names like Colin Firth, Richard Madden and Benedict Cumberbatch, with Sam Mendes, director of “Skyfall,” at the helm. I was immediately on board.

As the news and the trailers poured in, "1917" immediately became one of my most anticipated movies of the last year. Though I didn’t get to see it in 2019 (thank you, Dec. 25 limited release), I still consider it a 2019 movie. And it might just be the best of the year.

Starring Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay, “1917” follows two young soldiers in World War I on a mission to deliver a message to a group of 1,600 men walking into a German trap. With the imminent attack, the soldiers are in a race against the clock to deliver the message.

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The biggest talking point of this movie is how it is crafted to seem like one continuous shot, a feat well done thanks to the combined craftsmanship of Mendes and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. Every step the two men take, you feel like you’re right alongside them. Every trench they crawl through, every shot they fire, every breath they take, you are right there with them. It is really a powerful look at the brutality of war.

Lance Corporal Will Schofield (George MacKay) in "1917" (2019).

MacKay, an actor previously unknown within the mainstream movie scene, brought forth perhaps the best performance of 2019 and has been disgustingly overlooked by every major awards group. Chapman, known for his work as Tommen Baratheon on “Game of Thrones,” gave a fantastic performance as well. These two are phenomenal.

From a technical standpoint, “1917” is one of the most beautiful movies. Everything from the minimal use of CGI, relying on the classic, analogue techniques of traditional filmmaking, to Thomas Newman’s score (which made me cry) is done to perfection. No spoilers, but though the story may seem simple, there is so much depth that emerges further along in the film. Mendes and Deakins have crafted something special. Every single shot of this movie is perfect — nothing feels out of place.

"1917" director Sam Mendes speaks with the film's stars, George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman.

I tried to find some flaw to make this review seem somewhat unbiased, but I can’t. I had no qualms with anything. I was never bored. I didn’t take one look at my phone, which says a lot.

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With two major Golden Globe wins already — Best Director for Mendes and Best Motion Picture — this film is gaining a lot of steam at the perfect time. Look out for “1917” on Oscar Sunday, because with it having earned 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, it is sure to be one of the big winners.

“1917” moved me in a way no war film has ever done. Every single shot is beautiful, I cried twice and I sat through all the credits because it felt like a disservice to the filmmakers to not do so. This was the only movie that I felt could rival “Avengers: Endgame” for my best movie of 2019, and I think it may even surpass it.

I cannot overstate this — go see this movie!

With the new year comes a new film scoring system and we’re starting out strong. 10 out of 10 for “1917.”


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