1917 (2019) – Movie Review
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1917 (2019) – Movie Review


I was gonna do a simulated single take style
for this review in honor of the movie, but then I realized I always already do that anyway. Hey everybody, welcome to Mainely Movies. Today Iím gonna be talking about the 2019
war drama: 1917. If youíre new here, please consider subscribing
for a variety of movie-related content like reviews, ranked lists, and trailer reactions. All of my reviews include a breakdown of the
pros and cons, my rating, and some tailored film recommendations, so be sure to watch
through to the end of this video for all of that extra content. 1917 stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles
Chapman and was directed by Sam Mendes. Using a simulated single take style, it tells
the story of two British World War I soldiers, Lance Corporals Schofield and Blake, played
by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, respectively. Theyíre tasked with delivering a message
thatíll save the lives of 1600 men, including Blakeís brother, but they face nearly impossible
odds in doing so. 1917 isnít a movie. I know that might sound like an absurd statement
to make, but hear me out. Itís not something you passively watch. Itís not just a series of events occurring
on a screen in front of you. And itís not just some unbelievable spectacle
intended to keep you entertained while you eat popcorn. 1917 isnít a movie, itís an experience. Between the impressive technical aspects and
the story and character elements, this film is wholly immersive. Despite all the praise and hype surrounding
this film, that immersiveness is something you canít fully prepare for or appreciate
until you actually experience it. 1917 is truly unlike any war film Iíve ever
seen before. The first thing I have to talk about regarding
this movie is its cinematography and editing style. The film is shot as a simulated single take. In other words, this movie looks like somebody
turned a camera on and filmed these events, as they unfolded in one long shot. And this is definitely gonna be the primary
thing that 1917 is remembered for, deservedly so. It is absolutely a technical feat. Now, obviously the film wasnít actually shot
in one single take, but the cuts are so seamless that you really couldnít blame somebody for
thinking it was. The average moviegoer isnít gonna notice
the cuts and even if they do, theyíre so well-done that it adds to the cinematic artistry
of it all. Simulated single take films are very rare,
but they arenít anything new. Alfred Hitchcock first employed the style
in 1948 for his movie Rope to give the story a heightened sense of real-time tension. More recently, we had Birdman in 2014 which
also used the single take style with hidden cuts. The scene transitions were a little more obvious
in that movie than in this one and while it was still an impressive technical achievement,
the style didnít really feel like it served the story. It felt gimmicky; a cool, unique thing to
set the movie apart, but ultimately unnecessary to tell the story. 1917 isnít like that. The single take style isnít a gimmick here,
but rather a necessary tool to tell this story. The film still wouldíve been good if it had
been edited in a normal fashion, but it wouldnít have had nearly the same impact. The core story of 1917 is actually very simple. Two soldiers have to travel through enemy
territory to get a message from Point A to Point B in a short period of time in order
to save the lives of 1600 men. There isnít some extravagant or convoluted
plan. Thereís no deception or spectacle of a battle
sequence. Instead, thereís a lot of tension. And a lot of running. These characters have an end goal, but how
they go about trying to achieve that goal feels incredibly natural and spontaneous cause
theyíre going into the unknown and have no way of anticipating the things that are gonna
happen. And so the single take style works perfectly
for this type of story. Even though it was obviously meticulously
planned and blocked, it provides us with this sense of unpredictability cause weíre just
following these characters on this equally unpredictable journey. And so it almost becomes this sequence of
individual events that we witness during this broader mission, but the continuous filming
prevents it from feeling episodic. Instead, weíre left in awe of the whole,
while having so many individual moments stick in our head long after seeing the film. For a movie with such a broad scope and so
many huge filming locations, 1917 is a surprisingly small, personal story. Like I said before, this is a war film unlike
any Iíve seen before. Weíre thrown into the story without any real
introduction to the characters. Thereís no major exposition scenes or elongated
backstories for the characters. This might seem a bit weird and impersonal
at first, but I think it really works for the story and the filming style. Rather than being told who these people are
or shown in flashback scenes, weíre left to get a sense of them through their conversations
as they travel. Discussions of medals gives us insight into
how each of them feels about war and the glory of recognition. Cherry trees might seem like an odd topic,
but it gives us a sense of one of the charactersí upbringing and adds this personal touch to
the story that gets recalled more than once during the film. Even though the individual bits of conversation
donít necessarily tell us a whole lot about the characters, by the end of the movie, you
really have a sense of who they are. As the audience, we kinda feel like a third
soldier on the mission, tagging along with these two existing friends. We donít know the town they grew up in or
the name of their sweetheart, but we know who these people are because of their actions
and their responses in certain situations. And so you end up really caring about these
people cause they feel real. The hesitancy, the fear, the determination
ñ it all hits on a surprisingly deep level despite the nontraditional character development. 1917 is an experience. A tense one, an exhilarating one, and a frequently
frustrating one. It moves in unexpected directions and is both
personal and impersonal at the same time. With its single take style, it puts you right
into the story with the characters and thatís something thatís both emotionally impactful
and powerful. Alright letís talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one is definitely the single take
filming and editing style. Itís visually fantastic and extremely effective
when it comes to actually telling the story. It gives this sense of real-time urgency,
but also of unpredictability cause it has this incredibly cinematic documentary, kinda
guerilla filmmaking feel to it. Most of the actual takes are incredibly long
which is impressive enough given the size of the production, but when combined with
the incredible and seamless editing, itís a breathtaking and breath-holding experience. Like I said before, the single take style
is what this movieís gonna be remembered for. Thereís obviously a lot more to the film,
but this style is the glue that holds everything together and without it, the film wouldíve
been something altogether different. Pro number two is the acting, especially from
our two leads. Neither Dean-Charles Chapman or George MacKay
are currently very well-known actors, but they truly carry this. Acting and especially acting well isnít an
easy feat in any context, but itís certainly easier when there are more frequent cuts. And even though this film isnít actually
one big long take, individual scenes are still incredibly long and required a certain level
of endurance, both physically and mentally from these actors. And through all of that, they had to come
across as believable, real people from that time period and I think they both did a great
job. The third pro has gotta be the story. Itís fairly simple and straight-forward,
but sometimes that can actually be the most effective. Itís a war film that avoids the spectacle,
while still showing the horrors of trench warfare and the thanklessness of something
as impersonal as war. Itís a very real-feeling story, which makes
sense cause itís based ñ in part ñ on director Sam Mendesí grandfatherís account of World
War I. And so, all of these things combined really
help to set this movie apart from other war films, even if you donít take the filmmaking
style into account. On the con side, itís just minor nitpicks
for me and really nothing substantial. There were a handful of moments of frustration
for me when it came to time wasting within the story. You know, moments where you just want to yell
and the screen and tell them to get going. Thereís one scene in particular that involved
singing that felt especially out of place and weird in the context of the rest of the
movie, but again, even that wasnít bad. It involved a really awesome shot and was
a nice scene to catch our breath during, but it just went a little too long for me. Iím gonna give 1917 4.5 out of 5 paws. I have to say, I was really blown away by
this movie. I expected it to be good, but I didnít anticipate
it connecting with me as much as it did. Itís got a compelling story, the cinematography
is phenomenal, and that simulated single take style is absolutely enveloping. I would recommend 1917 to just about anybody. If you like war movies, this has got some
fantastically tense scenes and seems to be a very realistic depiction of a side of war
we donít usually see in film. If war movies arenít your thing, I think
youíll still really enjoy this cause itís a little atypical for a war movie. There arenít any big battle scenes, itís
not overly gory or gruesome in the normal war film way. Itís much more of a journey story than a
war story. If youíre a big cinephile, youíll be blown
away by the technical aspects and if you just like going to the movies and donít really
think about that side of filmmaking, youíre still gonna enjoy it cause itís a great film. If you liked 1917, I would recommend The Revenant. Itís not a war movie, though it does involve
some very intense battle scenes, but itís more a story about one characterís journey
and his ability to face and overcome impossible odds. This one also has some very impressive and
involved long-take scenes that are reminiscent of the style of 1917. Speaking of that style, if you were a fan
of the simulated single take, I would definitely suggest Rope. It was essentially the movie that started
the style and although itís a film thatís much smaller in scale and scope, itís still
impressive. If you want another war movie that uses a
unique storytelling style, you should check out Dunkirk. Itís about World War II, rather than World
War I, but it goes about telling its story from three different perspectives and through
three different lengths of time, until everything eventually converges. Alright, a couple questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen 1917? If so, whatíd you think of it? And number two: Whatís your favorite movie
that employs a unique filmmaking style? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments
below so we can get a discussion going. Alright, so if you got some enjoyment, insight,
or information out of this review, Iíd appreciate it if youíd hit that like button. And, if you havenít done so already, please
hit subscribe while youíre at it, to see more videos like this. Till next time, this has been Alyssa with
Mainely Movies: The way life should be.

9 Comments

  • Dori dahobbit

    Yesterday, I saw I, Daniel Blake (2016), Sorry We Missed You (2019), Tanhaji (2020), Just Mercy (2019), and My Dinner With Andre (1978).

  • Harry Thomas Pictures

    Awesome review Alyssa, 1917 is now my favourite War movie ever. Sam Mendes also directed some of the best Bond movies Skyfall and Spectre so I’m not surprised this movie turned out to be a masterpiece. I’d give 1917 5 stars out of 5!

  • Jack Benner’s Movie Reviews

    Great review, Alyssa! 1917 was incredible and one of the best war movies I’ve ever seen. Sam Mendes pulled off the one continuous shot filmmaking perfectly for this film and should definitely win the Oscar for Best Director. I’ll be happy if this wins the Oscar for Best Picture.

  • Luke's Reviews

    Wholeheartedly agree with you about this. 1917 is one heck of an experience, the likes of which I've never had before. Was lucky enough to see this in IMAX and it didn't disappoint. From the score, the cinematography, the story and the two central performances, I have become obsessed with this movie. Great review as always!!

  • Derk Hart

    Hi Alyssa, fantastic review, an I agree with you about this being a journey.
    First off this is a fantastic movie, with fantastic pacing, an really should bee seen at the movies, I really do believe that.
    First off I agree , these two young men flung together, with no flashbacks, is a great idea, we get to know them , from as soon as we see them, an here them, like at the start, when he's thanking him for him picking him for this suicide mission, an the other one saying, I thought we would be doing something easy lyke going for food, an the bit, with them arguing about we should wait till dark, an the brother saying , it's my brother out there we need to go now, we learn a lot about , the type of men they are, to me there brothers themselves.
    It's a fantastic small story, with lots of things happening along the way, if I had to nick pick Alyssa, that bit with the singing wasent the bit that annoyed me, the fact that there way nobody guarding the soldiers, while he was singing, that annoyed me, the bit with the milk annoyed me, you know when he meets up with the young girl looking after the little baby, an she tells him , the child needs milk, tada, I mean just little nick picks in a fantastic movie, the bit where the plane looked like its gona crash into a hill out of sight, like in countless movies, then it pops up, an your running for your life , that was fantastic, the only bit that confused me was the bit with the broken bridge an the sniper, was it recoil, that knocked him down the stairs, or did he get hit scratched by a bullet?, sorry maybe I should of said spoilers, but anyway what an end of a year, with lots of fantastic movies.

  • Team CB

    Hi Alyssa, yeah 1917 was very simple and an easy story to understand which is perfectly fine. It's one heck of an experience to see it in the theater and one of my new favorite war films. The sound editing is also amazing. What's you're opinion on Saving Private Ryan?

  • lee goodison

    Remarkable & powerfully immersive journey into no man`s land. its so tense, your emotionally
    charge into the horrors of WW 1. fantastic music score which add so much to the epic movie,
    along with a great cast…….10/10 go and see it. ps nice review….well done you !

  • JBuck Studios

    Wonderful movie and review. Everything you sad and then some! I have a feeling this will be the Best Picture at the Oscars!

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