With COVID causing havoc on cinema attendances, film fans have been turning more and more to online streaming platforms to get their entertainment fix. However, there are some films that just have to be seen in the cinema and Sam Mendes' WWI epic 1917 was most definitely one of those titles.
At the time of its release, the film had every single film fan in the world talking due to its unique filming style of being made in one continuous shot which follows the two main characters throughout their daring mission.
In terms of the plot, the story is set at the height of the First World War where two young soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers—Blake’s own brother among them.
While the cinematography, direction, camerawork, technical wizardry, and stuntwork on display are extraordinary, it's to 1917's immense credit that the story and performances don't get lost in the sweeping spectacle.
A special word of praise should go to cinematographer Roger Deakins.
While his CV is incredibly impressive having brought his remarkable eye to the likes of No Country For Old Men, Blade Runner 2049, Sicario, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, there are sequences in 1917 that are right up there with his best work - a scene at nighttime, in particular, comes to mind.
Since being released, 1917 has won 3 Oscars and become one of the best-reviewed war films in recent memory. At present, it boasts a rating of 78% on Metacritic and 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Here's what some notable critics made of Mendes' film which is now available to watch via Amazon Prime.
Rolling Stone - "In one of the best war films of all time, director Sam Mendes brilliantly delivers a story of two WWI soldiers on a mission that's a stunning technical accomplishment that unfurls as one single take - and a deeply felt tale of heroism under fire."
Observer - "Every war is hell, no matter when it was fought, but 1917, which is about a war far removed from contemporary reality, turns out to the best war picture since Saving Private Ryan."
Time - "Mendes has made a film that feels wholly alive. It’s a carefully polished picture, not one that strives for gritty realism. But its inherent devotion to life and beauty is part of its power."
Deadline - "Sam Mendes' epic WWI drama is a towering achievement in so many ways. A remarkable film that looks like no other."
The Times - "Sam Mendes delivers the film of his career by mashing up the survivalist thrills of The Revenant with the helter-skelter mayhem of a shoot'em'up video game, and setting it during the Great War."
CNN - "Yet the tale unfolds with considerable sensitivity, offering plenty of haunting images while capturing the chaos and fear of trench warfare -- especially through the eyes of MacKay, in a genuine breakout performance.
1917 also picked up five-star reviews from The Guardian, RTÉ, and the BBC.
Take a look at what's in store.