The film is set in World War I, an extremely fierce war and the largest scale in human history just after World War II. This was the confrontation between the two sides of the Treaty of England, France, Russia and the Confederation of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman.
Starting from late July 1914 to early November, 1918, this war was associated with the term Trench War, which also appeared several times in the films of World War 1917.
During World War 1917, the film’s development focused on two young British sergeants Will Schofield (played by George MacKay) and Tom Blake (played by Dean-Charles Chapman), who were played by General Erinmore (Colin Firth). role) assigns the task of stopping the imminent attack by Colonel Mackenzie.
Before that, after three years of fierce war, the Germans suddenly “set fire” that they would withdraw from the Hindenburg line. This really surprised the Treaty when they learned that the Germans would withdraw, even though the Germans had repeatedly died in order to prevent the advance of the French and the British.
Realizing the opportunity for many years, the II battalion of the Devonshire Regiment led by Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) immediately crossed the front line to intercept the retreating Germans.
At this time, behind the front line, General Erinmore received a message that the Germans were not actually retreating, they pretended to withdraw from the Western Front of France but sent troops to the Hindenburg line to lure the British into the army .
Helpless because the phone line was cut, he had to call two young soldiers Schofield and Blake to assign the task. Time was short and they needed to transfer the order to stop the attack to the commanding colonel, otherwise the entire II battalion would be wiped out and included Blake’s brother, Lieutenant Joseph Blake (played by Richard Madden).
During World War 1917, two soldiers were dispatched as two extremes, Schofield participated and won the medal of courage in the “meat mill” Sommes, a terrible battlefield in World War I with casualties. More than a million people on both sides to fight, he understood the dangers inside the white belt and firmly told Blake to wait until dark and then go.
Contrary to his friend, Blake is just an ordinary soldier, but he is determined to come quickly to save his brother. The brotherhood in the family caused him to mistakenly blame his friend, leading to a tragedy in the future.
Upon receiving the order, the two immediately set out and headed straight for an old German front. Both discovered the bunker that the Germans had left, but in the process of careless exploration that caused the trap inside to explode, Schofield was immediately covered in stone but Blake pulled him out. there.
Wounds and dust covered his body but due to the pressure of the battle, Schofield used up compassionate water to wash his eyes and as he continued across the battlefield, the two discovered the cannons and shells were left behind.
Surprised that the Germans had indeed retreated and the journey seemed simpler, Schofield and Blake quickly headed to an abandoned farm. The tragedy started at this time when the two watched the air war between German and British planes, the British overwhelmed the force so they easily shot down.
The moment the German plane crashed to the ground was also when the two non-commissioned officers came to pull the pilot out, before proposing to give him the shot of Schofield’s “favor”, Blake became kind and cried. Your friend went to get water to help him. In response, the pilot immediately stabbed Blake with a knife.
Many viewers when watching here expressed criticism, that in the war, the harshness is hard to avoid and it is best to ensure his life first, if Blake is not benevolent and Schofield does not listen to his friend, the It must not have been that serious.
But this is also a highlight of World War 1917, in the harsh war that empathy between people still flourished like a flower in the battlefield.
The staging technique was the biggest highlight of 1917, praised by critics. The work includes skillfully assembled scenes, making the whole movie look like there’s only one shot. To do this, director Sam Mendes, cinematographer Roger Deakins and crew staged. Before recording, they set up the entire movie scene with the miniature model, then create the real scene. At the scene in Wiltshire (UK), they dug a 1.5km-long trench system for recording. Each scene is carefully calculated about distance and space for filmmakers to have space to move and follow the character’s movements.
One shot style is not only for the eye, but also with the meaning of the work. In World War I, the characteristic of the land front was the use of many trenches. They are difficult to attack and easy to defend, so the two sides hold each other for a long time, creating fatigue, great casualties but little results. The disputed land becomes an extremely dangerous area where hazards can come from any direction.
1917 summarizes this spirit by attaching the viewer to two main characters.
The audience only gets to see what the cinematographer has arranged to fit into the frame. There are no cutscenes to the command of the two sides, no images of the army taking place in the space of the two main characters. The audience only knew the events at the same time, to the extent that Schofield and Blake, so the drama was pushed high. Peaceful situations and places can carry numerous dangers.
The work dismisses Hollywood movie heroism but focuses on the severity of warfare. Without heroic speeches or victorious victories, the real face of the war was soldiers tired to forget their days in the trenches, many brave people but their spirits also began to waver. The way a character calmly talks about teammates buried right in the trench emphasizes the brutality of war, making people seem cruel to death.
The main idea of the movie is that ordinary people are put in harsh circumstances. Mendes clarified this with a back-to-back angle when Schofield and Blake slowly poked their heads up from the fence (ie stepping into the danger zone). The audience only feels like the character and feels their insecurity, can lose their lives at any time.
Except for one scene, 1917 takes place mostly in real time, through which death is depicted directly. In one scene, the time from the moment a character is injured to death is just a few minutes, with no exaggerated or bogus details. On the battlefield, where all error comes at the cost, a healthy, determined individual can easily be deprived of life. The body gradually turned pale and blood stains spilled in just a short time, reflecting the fragility of a human life.
Another impressive scene is the climax, when Schofield runs through hundreds of soldiers volunteering (ie falling into the enemy battlefield). With the angle of the film, viewers cannot clearly see the faces of each soldier, but through the images, the sound of artillery can visualize the pressure on them. Each person running across Schofield can be considered a “failure” of him, when he could not reach the commander in time. It seems to be the face of war that Mendes wants to expose, the “anonymous” group rushed into danger, while their lives depended on a few decisions behind the scenes.
Both George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman completed tasks in the work that required a lot of emotion and strength. In the end, McKay was impressed by his wobbly gait after much hardship, his eyes a bit dumb but still showing determination to the finish. To play the role, the actor must prepare for eight months, from the dialogue to the moving scenes on the field, when the trenches and objects have not appeared. On Vox, Sam Mendes said to actively invite two little-known actors so as not to distract the audience’s attention: “We want to make it feel like two young men out of two million, and they have nothing special. They seem everyday.
The scriptwriter cleverly arranges personality and a small conflict so that the two characters have their own color. Tom is emotionally rich, eager to join the mission to save him, and Will is more hesitant due to his entire life after the fierce battle of the Somme in 1916. The little detail that marks the subtlety of the script is the scene of Will – older. Decided to be the first to peek out of the fence when entering the fighting zone. A later scene also shows the two characters’ decisions that match the original personalities they portray.
In addition, Mendes invited many names such as Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Richard Madden and Benedict Cumberbatch to play supporting roles to increase the value of the work. In it, Firth and Cumberbatch appear in two important scenes, opening and closing the main storyline.
Acclaimed a masterpiece of contemporary cinema and received top prize for Best Feature Film with numerous sub-awards such as British Film, Cinematography, Motion Picture, Production Design, Sound, and Director excellence at the 73rd BAFTA Awards.
It can be said that World War 1917 has completely conquered epic war genre fans around the world in a completely deserving way, making them “satisfied” in silence and without any show.