1917 (2019) Review: A Gripping and Immersive War Masterpiece

1917 (2019) Review
1917 (2019) Review

1917, directed by Sam Mendes, is a visually stunning and emotionally impactful war film that takes the audience on a harrowing journey through the trenches of World War I. Shot as if in a single continuous take, the film offers a unique perspective on the brutality and heroism of war. With its technical brilliance, powerful performances, and immersive storytelling, 1917 stands as a cinematic masterpiece that captures the horrors and humanity of warfare.

Immersive Cinematography:

One of the most striking aspects of 1917 is its immersive cinematography, expertly executed by acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins. The film unfolds in real-time, creating the illusion of a single uninterrupted shot. This technique places the audience right alongside the characters, immersing them in the chaos and tension of the war. The long takes and fluid camera movements enhance the sense of urgency, making the viewer feel as if they are experiencing the events in real-time.

Powerful Performances:

The film features remarkable performances from its ensemble cast. George MacKay delivers a standout performance as Lance Corporal Schofield, a young soldier tasked with delivering a critical message to save the lives of 1,600 men. MacKay’s portrayal is deeply moving, capturing the physical and emotional toll of war. Dean-Charles Chapman also shines as Lance Corporal Blake, Schofield’s loyal comrade, infusing the character with a youthful innocence and determination. The chemistry between MacKay and Chapman is palpable, grounding the film’s emotional core.

The Realities of War:

1917 does not shy away from depicting the brutal realities of war. From the desolation of the trenches to the haunting landscapes littered with corpses, the film paints a vivid and unflinching picture of the horrors faced by soldiers during World War I. The visceral and visceral scenes of combat, explosions, and the constant threat of death serve as a stark reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought.

A Story of Heroism and Humanity:

At its core, 1917 is a story of heroism and humanity amidst the chaos of war. As Schofield and Blake embark on their dangerous mission, they encounter various characters who showcase different aspects of the human experience in times of crisis. From the weary and disillusioned soldiers to the selfless acts of kindness, the film highlights the capacity for both cruelty and compassion within the human spirit. These moments of humanity amidst the darkness provide a glimmer of hope and serve as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Technical Brilliance:

Beyond its captivating cinematography, 1917 showcases technical brilliance in various aspects. The production design expertly recreates the war-torn landscapes and the claustrophobic confines of the trenches. The sound design further enhances the immersive experience, with the relentless sounds of gunfire, explosions, and soaring orchestral score immersing the audience in the chaos. The meticulous attention to detail and seamless integration of practical and visual effects create a sense of authenticity that adds to the film’s impact.

A Poignant and Timely Message:

Despite being set in World War I, 1917 carries a poignant and timely message that resonates with audiences today. It serves as a reminder of the enduring human cost of war and the futility of conflict. The film prompts reflection on the consequences of decisions made by those in power and the importance of valuing the lives of individuals caught in the crossfire. In an era marked by ongoing conflicts, 1917’s message of the human toll of war remains as relevant as ever.

In 1917, Sam Mendes has crafted a war film that transcends the genre, delivering an immersive, emotionally resonant, and technically brilliant masterpiece. With its immersive cinematography, powerful performances, and unflinching portrayal of the realities of war, 1917 leaves a lasting impact on its audience.

Through the film’s visual storytelling and the incredible performances of George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, viewers are transported into the shoes of the protagonists, experiencing their fear, determination, and moments of profound introspection. The film’s relentless pacing keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, mirroring the constant tension and danger faced by the characters.

The technical achievements of 1917 cannot be understated. Roger Deakins’ cinematography is nothing short of exceptional. The long takes and uninterrupted tracking shots seamlessly blend together, creating a sense of fluidity and urgency. This cinematic technique not only showcases Deakins’ mastery but also enhances the emotional impact of the film. It allows the audience to witness the horrors of war in real-time, immersing them in the visceral and chaotic landscape.

The film’s production design and art direction deserve special recognition. The attention to detail in recreating the war-torn environments is remarkable, capturing the devastation and despair of the era. From the muddy trenches to the ruined landscapes, every frame is a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship behind the scenes.

The sound design of 1917 is another standout element, contributing to the immersive experience. The audience is enveloped by the cacophony of battle, the thundering explosions, and the haunting silence that underscores the more poignant moments. The film’s score by Thomas Newman complements the visuals and amplifies the emotional weight of the narrative, serving as a powerful accompaniment to the on-screen events.

While 1917 is a war film, it transcends the genre by delving into universal themes of friendship, sacrifice, and the human spirit. Amidst the chaos and despair, moments of humanity and compassion emerge, reminding us of the resilience and inherent goodness within individuals even in the face of unimaginable circumstances.

The film’s message resonates deeply, urging us to reflect on the cost of war and the importance of valuing human life. It highlights the devastating impact of conflict on both individuals and society as a whole, questioning the futility of war and the decisions that lead to it. In an era where conflicts persist, 1917 serves as a powerful reminder to seek peace, empathy, and understanding.

In conclusion, 1917 is an extraordinary cinematic achievement that combines technical brilliance, powerful performances, and a poignant narrative. Sam Mendes and his team have created a film that immerses the audience in the harrowing realities of war while also exploring themes of heroism, humanity, and the human cost of conflict. 1917 stands as a testament to the artistry and emotional resonance that can be achieved through the medium of film. It is a must-see for cinephiles and a powerful reminder of the enduring impact of war on the lives of individuals.

The cast and crew of 1917 (2019) brought together a talented team of individuals who contributed to the film’s success. Here is a breakdown of the key members:


1. George MacKay as Lance Corporal Schofield: MacKay delivers a powerful and emotionally charged performance as the film’s protagonist. He portrays Schofield, a young British soldier entrusted with a vital mission to deliver a message and prevent an impending disaster.

2. Dean-Charles Chapman as Lance Corporal Blake: Chapman portrays Blake, Schofield’s loyal comrade and partner in the mission. His portrayal captures the youthful determination and camaraderie that drive the characters forward.

3. Mark Strong as Captain Smith: Strong brings gravitas to the role of Captain Smith, a high-ranking officer who provides crucial guidance and support to the protagonists.

4. Andrew Scott as Lieutenant Leslie: Scott’s portrayal of Lieutenant Leslie adds depth to the film, showcasing the toll that war takes on soldiers’ mental and emotional well-being.

5. Colin Firth as General Erinmore: Firth brings his signature charisma and presence to the role of General Erinmore, who assigns the mission to Schofield and Blake.

6. Benedict Cumberbatch as Colonel Mackenzie: Cumberbatch delivers a memorable performance as Colonel Mackenzie, a commanding officer with a complex and conflicted personality.

The ensemble cast also includes notable performances from Richard Madden, Daniel Mays, Adrian Scarborough, Jamie Parker, and many others who contribute to the authenticity and depth of the film.


1. Sam Mendes (Director/Co-Writer): Mendes, known for his acclaimed work in films like American Beauty and Skyfall, directed and co-wrote 1917. His vision and attention to detail brought the film to life, earning him critical acclaim and numerous awards.

2. Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Co-Writer): Wilson-Cairns collaborated with Mendes on the screenplay, contributing to the film’s narrative structure and emotional resonance.

3. Roger Deakins (Cinematographer): Deakins’ exceptional cinematography is a standout feature of the film. His expertise and innovative approach, including the creation of the illusion of a single continuous take, garnered him an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

4. Dennis Gassner (Production Designer): Gassner’s meticulous attention to detail in creating the war-torn landscapes and realistic sets helped transport the audience to the World War I era.

5. Lee Smith (Editor): Smith’s editing played a crucial role in maintaining the film’s immersive quality, seamlessly blending the long takes into a continuous narrative.

6. Thomas Newman (Composer): Newman’s evocative score perfectly complemented the film’s visuals and heightened its emotional impact, earning him an Academy Award nomination.

The dedicated efforts of the entire cast and crew, from the production designers to the sound mixers and visual effects artists, contributed to the authenticity, technical brilliance, and emotional depth of 1917.

Together, the cast and crew of 1917 created a powerful and unforgettable cinematic experience, resulting in a film that resonates with audiences and stands as a testament to the collaborative artistry of filmmaking.

Movie’s Success

1917 (2019) was not only critically acclaimed but also achieved significant success at the box office and in various award ceremonies. Here is a detailed overview of the movie’s success:

Box Office Success:

1917 was a commercial success, grossing over $374 million worldwide against a production budget of around $100 million. The film had a strong theatrical run, attracting audiences with its compelling narrative and technical brilliance. Its success can be attributed to positive word-of-mouth, critical acclaim, and effective marketing campaigns.

Critical Acclaim:

The film received widespread critical acclaim for its storytelling, technical achievements, and performances. Critics praised director Sam Mendes for his vision and execution, highlighting the film’s immersive cinematography and emotional impact.

The film holds an impressive 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on reviews from critics. The site’s critical consensus states, “Hard-hitting, immersive, and an impressive technical achievement, 1917 captures the trench warfare of World War I with raw, startling immediacy.”

Award Recognition:

1917 garnered numerous accolades and awards, cementing its place as one of the most celebrated films of its year. The film received three Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Mixing. It was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, among other categories.

The film’s technical achievements were widely recognized, with Roger Deakins’ cinematography receiving particular praise. Deakins won several awards for his work on 1917, including the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, and ASC Award for Best Cinematography.

Additionally, the film received recognition for its sound design, production design, and editing, with nominations and wins in various award ceremonies such as the BAFTAs, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and Satellite Awards.

Audience Reception:

Audiences responded positively to 1917, drawn to its compelling narrative, immersive cinematography, and emotional depth. The film resonated with viewers, evoking a range of emotions and capturing the human experiences of war.

The movie’s success with audiences can be attributed to its ability to engage and transport viewers into the trenches of World War I, making them active participants in the journey of the characters. Positive word-of-mouth and critical acclaim also contributed to its sustained popularity and success.

Legacy and Cultural Impact:

1917 has left a lasting impact on the cinematic landscape. Its innovative approach to storytelling, particularly the illusion of a single continuous take, has been praised and emulated by filmmakers. The film’s technical achievements have set new standards in cinematography and have inspired future generations of visual storytellers.

Moreover, 1917 has contributed to raising awareness of the sacrifices and human experiences of World War I. By capturing the horrors and heroism of war, the film reminds audiences of the lasting impact of historical conflicts and the resilience of the human spirit.

In conclusion, 1917 achieved both critical acclaim and commercial success. Its immersive storytelling, technical brilliance, and powerful performances resonated with audiences worldwide. The film’s recognition in prestigious award ceremonies and its lasting impact on the cinematic landscape solidify its place as a remarkable and influential piece of filmmaking.

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes of 1917, there are several interesting aspects that contributed to the film’s immersive and visually stunning experience. Here are some notable highlights:

Continuous Shot Illusion:

One of the most intriguing aspects of 1917 is its use of the continuous shot technique, which gives the impression that the entire film was shot in one take. While the movie is actually a carefully choreographed series of long takes seamlessly stitched together, the illusion created is astonishing. This approach required meticulous planning and coordination from the cast and crew to execute the complex camera movements and timing.

Collaboration with Cinematographer Roger Deakins:

Director Sam Mendes worked closely with renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins to bring his vision to life. Deakins, known for his expertise in lighting and composition, played a crucial role in capturing the film’s immersive and visceral quality. The duo collaborated on the intricate camera movements, ensuring that each shot seamlessly transitioned into the next while maintaining the desired emotional impact.

Immersive Practical Sets:

To create an authentic depiction of World War I, the production design team, led by Dennis Gassner, meticulously crafted practical sets that immersed the actors in the war-torn landscapes. From the expansive trenches to the decimated towns, the sets were designed with attention to detail and historical accuracy. This allowed the actors to fully inhabit their roles and enhanced the realism of the film.

Lighting and Atmospheric Effects:

The film’s lighting and atmospheric effects played a significant role in creating the mood and tone of each scene. The crew utilized a combination of natural lighting, practical effects, and strategic placement of light sources to capture the changing ambience of the war-torn environment. This attention to lighting added depth and texture to the visuals, further immersing the audience in the world of 1917.

Stunt Work and Practical Effects:

1917 incorporated a range of practical effects and stunt work to bring the war sequences to life. From realistic explosions to intricate battlefield choreography, the stunt team meticulously planned and executed these sequences to maintain the illusion of a continuous shot. Their efforts contributed to the film’s visceral impact, capturing the intensity and chaos of warfare.

Collaborative Approach:

The production of 1917 was a collaborative effort that involved various departments working in sync. The seamless integration of cinematography, production design, sound design, and visual effects required a high level of coordination and teamwork. This collaborative approach fostered an environment of creativity and innovation, resulting in a cohesive and immersive cinematic experience.

Overall, the behind-the-scenes process of 1917 showcased the dedication, meticulous planning, and technical expertise of the cast and crew. The combination of the continuous shot illusion, practical sets, lighting techniques, practical effects, and collaborative approach all contributed to the film’s immersive and visually stunning portrayal of World War I.

While 1917 is primarily known for its immersive storytelling and technical achievements rather than its songs, there are some memorable musical moments that enhance the film’s emotional impact. Here are a few noteworthy scenes and dialogues:

Unforgettable Scenes:

1. The Charge at Écoust: This intense sequence showcases Lance Corporal Schofield running through a battlefield amidst chaos and explosions. The camera follows him closely, creating a sense of urgency and danger. The scene is visually stunning and emotionally charged, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.

2. Crossing No Man’s Land: As Schofield and Blake navigate the treacherous No Man’s Land, the tension is palpable. The hauntingly quiet landscape, littered with corpses and barbed wire, creates a sense of eerie desolation. This sequence captures the horrors of war and the bravery of the soldiers.

3. Schofield in the Ruined Town: In a quiet moment, Schofield finds himself alone in a devastated town. The sight of cherry blossoms falling from a tree amidst the destruction brings a moment of unexpected beauty and contemplation. It serves as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life amidst the brutality of war.

Memorable Dialogues:

1. Lance Corporal Schofield: “I hoped today would be a good day. Hope is a dangerous thing.” This line reflects the cynicism and weariness that Schofield has developed over the course of the war. It encapsulates the underlying theme of hope versus the harsh realities of war.

2. Lance Corporal Blake: “There is only one way this war ends. Last man standing.” This dialogue highlights the futility and brutality of war, suggesting that victory may come at an immeasurable cost.

3. Lieutenant Leslie: “I hoped today would be a good day for you. You’ll be in my prayers.” Leslie’s farewell to Schofield carries a sense of camaraderie and empathy amidst the chaos. It underscores the human connection and support between soldiers in times of immense hardship.

Hit Songs:

While 1917 is not a musical film and does not feature traditional hit songs, the film’s score by Thomas Newman is widely regarded as a significant component of its success. The haunting and evocative compositions heighten the emotional impact of the film, adding depth and resonance to the visuals and narrative.

The score, with tracks like “The Night Window” and “Engländer,” captures the tension, despair, and hope present throughout the film. Newman’s music intensifies the emotional journey of the characters and enhances the overall cinematic experience.

In conclusion, while 1917 is not known for its hit songs, it is memorable for its visually striking scenes and powerful dialogues. The film’s immersive storytelling and technical brilliance, combined with its poignant themes and performances, create an indelible impact on the audience.

1917 (2019) is a remarkable war film that takes viewers on a harrowing journey through the trenches of World War I. Directed by Sam Mendes, the film stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity. With its immersive cinematography, intense storytelling, and powerful performances, 1917 delivers a visceral and emotionally charged cinematic experience.

The film follows Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), two young British soldiers given a critical mission. They must cross enemy lines and deliver a message to stop a planned attack that will lead to the death of 1,600 men, including Blake’s own brother. Time is of the essence as they navigate the treacherous landscape of No Man’s Land and encounter various obstacles along the way.

1917 is unique in its presentation, as it gives the impression of a continuous shot, immersing the audience in the characters’ journey in real-time. The single-shot technique, masterfully executed by cinematographer Roger Deakins, intensifies the suspense and creates an immediate connection with the characters. The camera serves as the audience’s eyes, capturing the chaos, danger, and quiet moments of contemplation.

Throughout the film, the horrors of war are depicted in vivid detail. The landscapes are scarred with trenches, barbed wire, and the remnants of destruction. The characters encounter fallen comrades, booby traps, and enemy soldiers. The sound design further enhances the immersive experience, with explosions, gunfire, and the haunting echoes of war echoing in the audience’s ears.

As Schofield and Blake progress on their mission, they encounter various individuals who provide glimpses of the war’s impact on different lives. From an emotionally distraught officer (Benedict Cumberbatch) to a sympathetic French woman caring for an orphaned baby, these encounters humanize the conflict and emphasize the toll it takes on individuals.

The journey of Schofield becomes a deeply personal one as he faces numerous challenges and dangers. George MacKay’s performance is compelling, as he portrays Schofield’s determination, fear, and weariness with subtle yet powerful emotion. His character’s growth and transformation are evident as he faces the horrors of war head-on, demonstrating the resilience of the human spirit.

The climax of the film comes when Schofield reaches his destination, a battalion preparing for an ill-fated attack. As chaos erupts, Schofield must navigate through the mayhem and deliver the message in a race against time. The suspense is palpable, and the audience is on the edge of their seats as they witness the consequences of war unfold before their eyes.

Ultimately, 1917 serves as a poignant reminder of the human cost of war. It explores themes of duty, sacrifice, and the devastating impact of conflict on both individuals and communities. The film does not shy away from depicting the physical and emotional toll of war, highlighting the resilience and camaraderie that arise amidst the chaos.

In its conclusion, 1917 leaves viewers with a mix of emotions. The personal journey of Lance Corporal Schofield serves as a testament to the indomitable human spirit in the face of overwhelming challenges. The sacrifices made and the lives lost are not in vain as the message is delivered, but the toll of war remains etched on the characters and the audience.

As the film fades to black, the audience is left with a profound sense of the fragility of life and the lasting impact of war. The immersive journey through the trenches of World War I lingers in their minds, reminding them of the courage, resilience, and sacrifice of those who fought and those who continue to fight for a better future.


1917 is a cinematic achievement that combines technical brilliance with emotional depth. Its continuous shot technique creates an unbroken connection between the audience and the characters, immersing them in the chaos and devastation of war. Roger Deakins’ cinematography, with its sweeping long takes and masterful framing, captures the scale and intimacy of the conflict, while Thomas Newman’s evocative score heightens the emotional impact of each scene.

The success of 1917 lies not only in its technical achievements but also in its ability to tell a compelling and human story amidst the backdrop of war. The film explores the themes of duty, brotherhood, and the price of sacrifice. It reminds us of the profound impact that war has on individuals, families, and society as a whole.

Through the performances of the talented cast, the characters of Schofield and Blake come to life, evoking empathy and understanding. Their journey is not just a physical one but a psychological and emotional odyssey, as they confront their fears, face moral dilemmas, and grapple with the weight of their mission.

The film’s unforgettable scenes, such as the intense charge at Écoust and the perilous crossing of No Man’s Land, stay etched in the memory of the audience. These sequences, with their breathtaking visuals and palpable tension, capture the brutality and devastation of war. They serve as a stark reminder of the cost and consequences of human conflict.

In addition to its technical prowess and gripping narrative, 1917 is a testament to the power of collaboration and the dedication of the cast and crew. Director Sam Mendes, along with his team, meticulously planned and executed each aspect of the film, from the choreography of the camera movements to the intricate practical effects. The result is a seamless and immersive cinematic experience that resonates long after the credits roll.

The critical and commercial success of 1917 is a testament to its impact on audiences worldwide. The film garnered critical acclaim, earning numerous accolades and awards, including three Academy Awards. Its box office success further solidified its place as a significant and influential film.

Beyond its immediate achievements, 1917 has left a lasting legacy in the world of cinema. It has inspired filmmakers to push the boundaries of storytelling and technical innovation. The continuous shot technique, in particular, has become a subject of admiration and emulation, influencing the way films are crafted and appreciated.

In conclusion, 1917 is a cinematic masterpiece that captivates audiences with its immersive storytelling, technical brilliance, and powerful performances. Through its continuous shot technique, the film transports viewers to the trenches of World War I, allowing them to experience the horrors and humanity of war firsthand. It is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made and the indomitable spirit that emerges in the face of adversity. 1917 is a film that will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come, reminding us of the enduring power of cinema to tell stories that touch our hearts and challenge our perspectives.

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