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'1917' (2020)

Directed by Sam Mendes


This is a technically astounding film. Roger Deakins has pulled off some quite unreal sequences here. He had to light up locations with fireworks and wait for days for the weather to match that of the previous shot. The editing was done on the fly and on location in order for consistency. The cinematography is the best part of the movie - there are some scenes that leave the viewer completely puzzled as to how they achieved them. For that reason alone it's worth watching.

The film itself is a little cliched and the two leads aren't exactly brilliant. It's a very "allied" war film as opposed to a European war film, and for that reason alone it will get many of the big awards. The plot centres around two young soldiers that have to go into enemy territory to warn another squadron about a German ambush. We see in (almost) real time - their efforts unfold.

The score manipulates the viewer into feeling the feels at the right times, and there are many similar shots and subtext from plenty of other war movies. It is at times predictable, but the movie isn't pretending to be anything other than a flamboyant, in your face war blockbuster, so it works on that level. There are some questionable character choices and subplots, but the movie wouldn't be the movie it is without them, so it's hard to mark it down for those reasons.

If nothing else, watch it for Deakins.