***BEWARE SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE 1917***
We are a week back into the swings of things with Allen_The_Writer year four and things seem to be going well all thanks to the wonderful readers like you. I was a little worried that after how bumpy the second half of last year was, it would be hard to get my viewership back, but that was not the case. It seems like my core audience has stayed by me through the rocky parts and are still here to see what the new year brings. Thank you again for being there. Viewers new and old really mean the world to me and fill me with so much joy. Speaking of being back, this week I released a full week of content which you can check out if you missed it. Last Sunday, I published a Weekly Blog talking about New Decade Panic and the pressure both a new year and a new decade can put on someone. On Wednesday, I published a Poem titled “Lazy January Rain” which is pretty straight forward. Watching it rain in January while the thoughts of winter snow swirl in my head. Finally, on Friday, I published a Writing Prompt Piece titled “Endless Snow.” What if it started to snow worldwide and never stopped? This Writing Prompt piece provides a small window into that world.
Other than writing these pieces, this week, I also got to chance to see the World War I movie, 1917 which I want to talk about in this Weekly Blog. Now this is a newer movie still in many movie theaters, so if you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend buying a movie ticket and seeing it. Just know going into it, that it is a World War I movie. It’s not the feel good movie of the summer. It’s very intense and the movie’s director Sam Mendes called it a “a ticking-clock thriller” (Vox). I’m going to talk about it in more detail going forward, but if you want a spoiler-free version, I will say that you should go see this movie on a big screen. I made a mistake by not seeing Christopher Nolan’s World War II movie, Dunkirk, in theaters and I did not make the mistake again. This movie is best experienced in a dark theater with a large screen and surround sound.
Now let’s get into the spoilers of the movie because that’s where we can talk about the real stuff. 1917 is a suspenseful movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat while following the journey of two British soldiers tasked with delivering a message that will stop an ambush. During this time the two must make their way through no man’s land between the British trenches and German trenches. If they fail in their mission to deliver the message in less than 24 hours, the British army will send thousands of troops into a German ambush. That’s the plot of this movie which is obviously very important, but I want to talk about two technical aspects that bring this movie to new heights.
This movie succeeds in two main ways: cinematography and tone. First let’s start with cinematography because that’s the thing that caught me immediately and drew me in. This movie is filmed as one long shot. If you don’t know what that means, another way of saying it is that there is no cuts in the filming. Quickly watch a scene from any action movie and you will see that there is tons of shots. The camera jumps around from character to character or from angle to angle. It’s not continuous. It’s like you blink and you are somewhere else. This movie doesn’t have any of that. It’s one long shot without any blinks. Now technically the movie does have cuts. It would be pretty much impossible to film a two hour movie without a single cut. But the movie smudges the cuts in ways that really makes it feel like the movie is made with one camera that just films the entire thing in one shot. For me, the camera work in this movie is so amazing and the few “behind the scenes” show how much work and consideration went into filming this movie. The camera almost acts as another person as it follows these two soldiers walking through the trenches and through “no man’s land.” Sometimes following them right behind and sometimes pulling back a little to show them transitioning this war-torn land. It’s like the camera is another person right there in the action instead of being a spectator just watching it from afar.
This camera placement helps the movie establish it’s tone. This is very much a World War I drama and a time sensitive thriller. This isn’t a war epic which watches the war from above. It puts you right there alongside the soldiers fighting and dying over every inch of Europe. Plus these soldiers are a time crunch. They have a time sensitive mission and if they don’t make it, thousands will die. All of this makes for a very tense movie where bad things can happen. This is far from other war movies where the movie centers on the action and mowing down enemies with thousands of bullets. This movie makes every second matter and the materials carried by the soldiers matter. This isn’t necessarily a stealthy spy movie, but the characters do have to be careful. They don’t have an army backing them up. They don’t have unlimited ammo. And they actually follow the time frame. You know when a movie has a bomb that has to be shut down and it has a countdown, but it doesn’t follow it’s own logic. The minute time actually lasts for 10 movie minutes. Well this movie is basically the opposite. It’s a two hour movie so it doesn’t show the entire journey in real time, but it does make every minute count. In the Vox interview I read, The Director of 1917 said that he “[…]wanted an audience to feel every second passing and take every step with them, and also be aware of geography and distance and physical difficulty” (Vox) and this movie definitely exceeds in doing that.
Finally that I just want to mention that this movie is a very serious movie which has a somber ending. (MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD). The movie ends with Lance Corporal Schofield (played by George McKay) completing his mission to stop the attack but it costs him the life of his friend, and other soldier tasked with completing his mission, Lance Corporal Blake (played by Dean-Charles Chapman). Lance Corporal Schofield tracks down Blake’s brother and tells him about Blake’s death. He then sits down with his back of a tree, exhausted from the mission but also grateful he completed it. Then it just ends. It’s a sad ending but also a happy ending in some ways. It’s an ending that left me sitting there thinking, “Huh. That was a good movie.” But it isn’t a movie where you stand up and cheer. It’s not a movie that gets your blood pumping. It’s a movie that kind of leaves you feeling numb. It’s like walking through a tragedy but knowing that you made it. It was hard but now you are at the end.
So there are my thoughts on 1917. It was an excellent movie which I really enjoyed, but it’s not a movie that I want to immediately re-watch. I need to sit and think about it for a bit before revisiting it. Actually writing this Weekly Blog helped me put my thoughts to words so I hoped you enjoyed reading it. If you’ve seen the movie I welcome you to leave your thoughts on the movie down in the comments. Let me know if you agree with my point of view or if you have a different take on it. What did you enjoy and what didn’t you like. I know the idea of filming a movie as one long cut does take a bit to getting used to, especially if you are thinking about it as you watch. If you liked this Weekly Blog, feel free to give it a like. Also if you haven’t read the other pieces I talked about at the beginning of the Blog, go ahead and give them a read.
Thank you again for supporting me and reading my stuff and I hope you have a wonderful week!
Header Photo Credit to 1917’s IMDb Page