1917 (2019)

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Just watched it. Technically this film is brilliant with beautiful cinematography, sound effects and action.

It is fairly engrossing too.

But when it ends, you are left with a feeling of inadequacy.

It's like going to this posh restaurant and having their best dish, which looks great and tastes really nice, but somehow you are still left feeling hungry or not full. You know it wasn't enough. You wish there was more to it.



I just want to hug (your FACE)!
2.75/5 borderline 3 for technical qualities but incredibly dumb luck in characters' circumstances knocked this well below its potential. I think Dunkirk is better quality all around and handles minimalist character development with more weight than this.

A visual treat at times but not enough to counter silly improbability throughout.



I just want to hug (your FACE)!
What exactly do you mean by "incredibly dumb luck in characters' circumstances"?
If you haven't seen the movie you might not want to read past here!

WARNING: spoilers below

I meant dumb luck as in the character should have died a minimum of 13 times counting back from the scenes that I could remember during credits. It was too coincidental and too frequent for me to believe and became more noticeable the more it happened. I didn't find that dramatic. It felt more like hollow obstacles written for moments of suspense rather than providing a genuine sense of threat or that Will had any part of his own survival.

I'd expect that in some random action flick. This seemed like it should have been more than that so it felt off.



But aren't there about 800 other movies you could say that about? If the movie was completely realistic, it would have been over in 15 minutes.



I just want to hug (your FACE)!
But aren't there about 800 other movies you could say that about? If the movie was completely realistic, it would have been over in 15 minutes.
Sure. Knowing me, I'd probably say it about those other 800 movies too, lol.

WARNING: "spoilers" spoilers below
I guess it's about balance than realism. It could be expectations too, and that I went in with the wrong ones. A lot of effort clearly went into shots and framing, sets, and visuals. The moments I had issue with seemed to not have nearly the same level of consideration. That's just something I pick up on, for whatever reasons, with my own personal sensibilities.

I don't mean to suggest I expect complete realism, but the movie didn't offer me the idea that it was fanciful or of an epic hero survival tale. IMO, he didn't survive his trials so much as the writers just made sure he didn't die. There is a subtle distinction there, I suppose, but it weighs heavily with me.

It takes place in war. In war is death. Also in war are inexperienced youth likely traumatized to a point that common sense, skill, and situational awareness are out the door. There were scenes that showed that, and those moments were well done. I did question myself to recognize the likelihood of these "boys" just not being able to perform under the extreme burdens that war places on them; but, like I noted, it was just so frequent. I could believe in a few close calls. How many shots were fired at him, from a sniper, as he stood still? Sure, exhaustion affects aim, but that it happened so many times, with every other enemy encounter, was a problem.

Too, earlier in the film Schofield was shown to be the one of the two that was wise enough to evaluate their situation by asking Blake to slow down to "think about this" and to come up with a plan, offering to wait until they had the cover of night. Schofield was the one that found the trip wire in the bunker. He was the one that sensed danger in the cherry orchard farm house. These cues to highlight his awareness of his surroundings and of himself were mostly useless after the fact when fate/destiny more or less took over for him. For example, not recognizing the very high risk that a lone bucket full of milk in an otherwise obliterated farm would not have been wired for explosives. Or at least that he probably should have considered it, in that he found the wire mentioned earlier in the bunker and again commenting how the Germans destroyed their own guns before retreating to keep their enemy from claiming them. He is clearly aware by that point of German tactics and traps.

Destiny. If that was the goal of the story, that sheer will alone is all powerful then I never really picked up on that. In that light, maybe Hacksaw Ridge really is a better film. I just can't get past Spider-Man dragging Vince Vaughn through a live battlefield to give it its due.

Perhaps it was divine intervention? The milk a blessing from God, like Zeus providing helm, shield, and sword to protect Perseus. The commander of the Yorks did literally bless them with his flask of liquor as they were climbing from the safety of the trench. Is that what was happening? Perhaps this is all some sort of spiritual allegory that I missed. If so, then show me more as I didn't experience that without digging pretty deep here to share some of my thoughts and processes when watching this movie. I would be interested to watch it again with that perspective. Just to see where it goes. I'm curious if anyone has any review links where anything like that is mentioned?

Back to me ranting....

This is kind of what goes on in my head when watching most things:
It's like a movie in its entirety creates ...a sine wave of ups and downs. Some are higher or lower than others, but for the length of a movie they sort of average out to create a rhythm. Depending on how that movie (or song, or poem, or personal daily routine) presents the different elements contained within it (plot, framing, set design, sound, technical approach, etc.), you can pick up patterns and expectations based on those patterns.

Take for example a 10-minute film of flowers gently waving in a breeze. Maybe after 2 minutes of it you begin to realize OK, this is gentle. It's calming. After 5 minutes that is more or less confirmed. At the 8 minute mark, though, things are interrupted by static then a 20-second clip of some lion gruesomely eating its prey appears. That does not fit, and breaks the average that the rest of the film implied as standard. Maybe it was intentional. It's hard to believe that this example would not be, but who knows. It has its place, sure. In the case of this movie, however, those scenes in which Schofield is immune to the dangers around him (as frequent as they were) were similar spikes for me and really distracted me from what all else of the movie had been presented so well.

Those scenes, if handled slightly differently in my opinion, could have been more practical given the gravity of the story and handling of most every other aspect of the film---aspects that found harmony in each other with the exception of the few hundred paragraphs above, of course.
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I really loved this film, interesting to note that Mendes has done action, war and family drama. I'll definitely be interested in seeing what he does next.

SPOILER:

When the surviving protagonist runs close to the trench, and artillery is raining behind him, makes for one of the most epic scenes I've seen in a war film.



I'm still waiting to see it as it's in theatre transitions where I live. However, my friends saw and they truly thought it was literally all shot in one take. They don't believe me at all when I tell them that it was just made to look that way, and think I am being skeptical, even after I reference sources, they still don't believe it and think the sources are either inconclusive, or wrong. But it is true right, that it was just made to look like it?



Welcome to the human race...
Even if it was literally one unbroken take, how else do they account for the fact that it does just cut to black when the protagonist gets knocked out about halfway through the film?
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I'm still waiting to see it as it's in theatre transitions where I live. However, my friends saw and they truly thought it was literally all shot in one take. They don't believe me at all when I tell them that it was just made to look that way, and think I am being skeptical, even after I reference sources, they still don't believe it and think the sources are either inconclusive, or wrong. But it is true right, that it was just made to look like it?
Here's a pretty good explanation of how many edits there were: https://www.thewrap.com/how-1917-edi...-feature-film/

"Although the film looks like an uninterrupted shot, with only one obvious cut, it actually contains dozens of cuts. “The shots lasted anywhere from 39 seconds to six minutes,” he said, “but not many of them were as long as six minutes. They were extremely variable in length.” (Mendes said his editor is mistaken, that the film contains an eight-and-a-half-minute shot.)"

Personally, I was very impressed with the editing that made it look like one long take. There were only 1 or 2 where a cut occurred to me.



Ami-Scythe's Avatar
A bucket of anxiety
Just watched it. Technically this film is brilliant with beautiful cinematography, sound effects and action.

It is fairly engrossing too.

But when it ends, you are left with a feeling of inadequacy.

It's like going to this posh restaurant and having their best dish, which looks great and tastes really nice, but somehow you are still left feeling hungry or not full. You know it wasn't enough. You wish there was more to it.
I kinda feel like that was what they were going for.
WARNING: "1917" spoilers below
The feeling of completing an extraordinary goal but not really having anything to show for it. He was literally told to piss off after literally just saving a countless number of men. He wasn't even offered a cigarette. He had no where to go. No other orders to follow. No friends, no family. Just a tree near a pool of senseless violence that in the end will mean almost nothing to anyone. It's truly the feeling that an endless amount of soldiers have felt and many more will feel. Great in the moment but empty now. And if nothing else, I think the movie did a really good job of displaying that.
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Ami-Scythe's Avatar
A bucket of anxiety
2.75/5 borderline 3 for technical qualities but incredibly dumb luck in characters' circumstances knocked this well below its potential. I think Dunkirk is better quality all around and handles minimalist character development with more weight than this.

A visual treat at times but not enough to counter silly improbability throughout.
I certainly get what you're saying. I felt that way while watching the movie too.

WARNING: "1917" spoilers below
I kinda felt that way after they dug him out of the dirt in the tunnel and especially after he made that jump while blinded and seemed to have all the time in the world to escape the collapse. At first I thought to myself that there are real men in history that just seem to survive all kinds of wild accidents and we were watching one of those men but in the later chase scenes where there was literal gun fire I REALLY started to feel like nothing was going to happen to him. What kept me on edge was wondering whether or not he would make it on time which is why I still enjoyed it along with the break neck pacing of it that gave me a better look at the realities of war better than some of the best war movies I've been introduced to. Most movies give you time to soak in the moment someone dies or gets hurt but for me it was more effective to see that these soldiers had no time to do such thing. At the end when he ran through all the people he couldn't get to in time to stop them from being injured was so unnerving to me. It's in great mass but it's barely in focus. The film just keeps going. Something about that is just shocking.


But anyway, I can see why you or anyone else would be turned off by the lacking sense of tension. I also get that it's [seemingly inevitable survival] in tons of other movies, but that was sort of the problem. I expect a certain kind of nonsense depending on the movie I'm watching and a war movie, especially one that's definitely trying to show you the real life horrors of the military, should have higher standards than that of an 80s action movie or a Marvel flick. I mean it is pretty pathetic when your war movie has less realism than a zombie show by Netflix. (I'm not plugging Black Summer. Totally not plugging Black Summer Without a doubt am not saying more people need to witness the brilliant insanity that is Black Summer. Not saying I'd watch it over Walking Dead any day at all. Black Summer)



Ami-Scythe's Avatar
A bucket of anxiety
Here's a pretty good explanation of how many edits there were: https://www.thewrap.com/how-1917-edi...-feature-film/

"Although the film looks like an uninterrupted shot, with only one obvious cut, it actually contains dozens of cuts. “The shots lasted anywhere from 39 seconds to six minutes,” he said, “but not many of them were as long as six minutes. They were extremely variable in length.” (Mendes said his editor is mistaken, that the film contains an eight-and-a-half-minute shot.)"

Personally, I was very impressed with the editing that made it look like one long take. There were only 1 or 2 where a cut occurred to me.
I want so badly to know what exactly it is they did. One of my favorite parts of film is movie magic. It's so amazing how people in the background pull the tiniest strings to make the biggest effects. I get that knowing the secrets usually ruins movies for people but it just fascinates me. I love to think about all the people and all the different parts that were put to create one grand illusion. I even like to hear about all the stuff that went wrong.




I kinda feel like that was what they were going for.
WARNING: "1917" spoilers below
The feeling of completing an extraordinary goal but not really having anything to show for it. He was literally told to piss off after literally just saving a countless number of men. He wasn't even offered a cigarette. He had no where to go. No other orders to follow. No friends, no family. Just a tree near a pool of senseless violence that in the end will mean almost nothing to anyone. It's truly the feeling that an endless amount of soldiers have felt and many more will feel. Great in the moment but empty now. And if nothing else, I think the movie did a really good job of displaying that.
I know what you are trying to imply here, but unfortunately that is not how I felt.

I have watched movies where I have shared the character's emotions or understood the director's intentions, but that was not the issue here. I just thought there was something lacking in the story. There could have been more. A lot more.



Ami-Scythe's Avatar
A bucket of anxiety
I know what you are trying to imply here, but unfortunately that is not how I felt.

I have watched movies where I have shared the character's emotions or understood the director's intentions, but that was not the issue here. I just thought there was something lacking in the story. There could have been more. A lot more.
That's understandable. I had a feeling it was missing something but I haven't placed my finger on it yet. I made a comment in my head that it didn't have much re-watch ability somewhere in the middle. That might've had something to do with it.



Ami-Scythe's Avatar
A bucket of anxiety
So I talked about it with my husband and we came to the conclusion that it's incredibly straightforward. There's never really a rising or falling action and there isn't really that much of a climax either. It's kinda like a car ride from point a to point b.

WARNING: "1917" spoilers below
I think what could've fixed it from being so standard is if they didn't kill Blake so early on. I was certainly surprised to see him die so suddenly (and in such a stupid manner) but it'd be nice if our lead had someone to work off of, because he certainly had less personality than his partner. And sure, he does meet other characters but they don't have much impact on the story or develop the character at all.



Watched it again last night. First time around I found it an okay flick. Second time was better because much like an Airplane movie, I no longer was fully focused on the foreground and started seeing all the stuff going on in the background. Especially the amount of subtly, semi-buried dead bodies.



It's good. It's cliched and predictable. But it's so technically impressive it is worth the watch.
Didn’t think it clichéd at all. Rather an original story IMO. The lead actor was fantastic.

Maybe I won't watch Dunkirk.
Hated Dunkirk. Didn’t believe in any of the characters.

I posted elsewhere that I will either love it or hate it. If I don’t believe in the characters, I will hate it.
Saw it yesterday. Didn’t love it & doubt I will see it again, but I found it very moving. Very respectful of the subject matter & a wonderful tribute to the director’s grandfather & his WWI comrades.

Even if it was literally one unbroken take, how else do they account for the fact that it does just cut to black when the protagonist gets knocked out about halfway through the film?
Mendes said he wanted to show the transition from daylight to darkness.

But anyway, I can see why you or anyone else would be turned off by the lacking sense of tension.
“Lacking sense of tension”? Did we watch the same movie?
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I thought the movie was good and decent, however, it wouldn't have been near as entertaining if it wasn't for the seemingly one shot takes, and that really carries a lot of the movie. But still good though.