With the horrors and destruction of World War I nearing its dramatic end in Northern France, the year 1917 is the perfect setting to depict the chaos and tragedy surrounding the war.
Written and directed by Sam Mendes, the film “1917,” leaves audience members with horrified astonishment and an uneasy satisfaction that makes their overpriced movie ticket suddenly seem worth it.
Starring Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay as Lance Corps. Blake and Schofield, the suspenseful film sets the two on a seemingly impossible mission to deliver an urgent message to the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. The beautifully written dialogue and carefully crafted cinematography place the audience directly into the shoes of the soldiers followed in the film.
Upon the first scene, the picture of a heaven-like meadow is portrayed with two British soldiers peacefully snoozing under the shade of an oak tree. The two are awoken from their blissful slumber and report to command, where they receive instructions to cross through enemy lines to call off an attack doomed to fail.
Blake, a young sarcastic lad whose humorous disposition always puts a smile on his buddy Schofield’s face, learns that his brother will participate in the attack if the message is not delivered. The two accept and begin their trek between the trenches.
Death, a sickening motif presented in the movie, is scattered everywhere. The soldiers shuffle past decaying horses and step over countless human corpses left to rot.
Schofield slices his hand open on barbed wire and then proceeds to trip, catching himself on an opened corpse, his freshly opened hand becoming fully submerged into a decaying human. This scene instills a feeling of disgust in the audience and the facial expressions of repulsion can be felt by the uncomfortable groan let out by audience members.
As the plot trudges on, the audience is subjected to the violent deaths of soldiers and the atrocities of trench warfare, which many people have disinterestedly glossed over in dull history books, not understanding how gruesome the situation truly was.
As the story enters enemy territory the atmosphere changes from violent action to tense horror. The audience develops the feeling they are watching a horror movie and not an action one, which is fitting considering how terrifying war is.
The story continues with suspenseful ticks, building in tension as each development in the film passes. By the end the viewer needs at least a few minutes of silence to digest what they have just witnessed. 1917 reminds us that there are no winners in war only losers and the only true enemy is the war itself.