From the director of Skyfall and Spectre comes 1917, an epic war film that has hauled a number of awards, and for good reason too… Because it’s brilliant. 1917 is up there at the top alongside Saving Private Ryan and Hacksaw Ridge on my metaphorical list of “the best war movies”.
1917 isn’t just a film, it’s an experience, and if you get a chance to watch it on the big screen then you simply must do. It’s an incredible technical achievement and the film’s “one-shot” filming method means that the entire runtime is intimate and intense. From start to finish, the camera doesn’t leave our two lead characters and the audience are taken on a deep, immersive journey with them that feels raw and unsettlingly real. 1917 takes the time to flesh out these characters, making them relatable and giving the audience time to connect with them. This only makes everything more hard-hitting as the horrors of the First World War inevitably come into play, at times it’s not an easy watch and is extremely unsettling. This isn’t like Dunkirk, where the horrors and reality of war were brushed aside in favour of a lower age-rating and a focus on the tension instead, 1917 is going to make you feel uncomfortable at times. But this is all part of the experience, and it would be a much weaker film without these moments, I’m glad it didn’t shy away from them.
Everyone involved with this film should be extremely proud, because all aspects of it come together brilliantly and the end result is fantastic. The star-studded cast are all sensational, bringing that level of realism that you need in a war film to truly get the audience invested. The visuals, effects and cinematography are at times mind-blowing, hence why seeing this film on the big screen is a huge bonus. As well as this, Thomas Newman has probably delivered my favourite film score since Blade Runner 2049, it is simply amazing, and I’ve found myself listening to it in full on more than one occasion.
The trailers are somewhat deceiving, if you’re going into this film expecting an action-packed war movie then you might be disappointed, this film is slow at times and can go on for a while without any action beats. Personally, I loved that aspect of it as it gave the film more time to develop characters, build relationships, focus on the individuals and the quieter, intimate moments that at times are just as hard-hitting as the moments with explosions and gunfire galore. However, I’m wary some people might want something different from a war film and may find it a bit dull at times.
1917 is a brilliant piece of filmmaking and deserving of the accolades it has received. It’s no doubt going to be an inspiration to other filmmakers and is likely going to stand the test of time, in years to come when commentators discuss the best war movies ever made, I have no doubt 1917 will enter the conversation.
I give 1917 an 8.5/10.