1917: Best War Movie Ever Made?

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By: Jordan Oliver

1917: a chilling, thrilling war drama that leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat the entire film. Already a winner of Best Motion Picture, Best Director and Best Original Score at this year’s Golden Globes, 1917 has also been nominated for TEN Academy Awards: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Achievement in Production Design, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Best Achievements in Sound Mixing, and Best Achievement in Sound Editing. A tense film from the start, the World War I based film keeps the dark, relentless pace bearable with its hint of dry, British humor. Director Sam Mendes used the one-shot style to give the audience an intimate, 3rd person POV throughout the fast paced action. He spoke on the one-shot style of filming in a VOX interview: “I wanted to tell this story in two hours of real time. So I felt like it was a natural thing, to lock the audience into the men’s experiences. In a movie that operates more like a ticking-clock thriller at times, I wanted an audience to feel every second passing and take every step with them, and also be aware of geography and distance and physical difficulty. The feeling that you are going to have to live through the story with them is accentuated by not cutting.” The directing choice pays off in the end—as if you are right in the movie as it unfolds.

Being one of two War films nominated this year for an Academy Award, 1917, sets itself apart from, Jojo Rabbit, thematically and tonally. It juxtaposes the horrors of war with the strength of the human spirit. Though you may see a glimpse of big stars like Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth, the story is centered around lesser known actors Dean-Charles Chapman, Game of Thrones, and George Mackay, Captain Fantastic, as they embark on a mission in northern France to deliver an urgent letter that may save the lives of thousands of men. Mendes drew upon his grandfather’s way stories for inspiration. “It wasn’t until his mid-70s that he decided he was going to tell the stories of what happened to him when he was in his teenage years… and there was one particular story he told us of being tasked to carry a single message through no man’s land in dusk in the winter of 1916. He was a small man, and they used to send him with messages because he ran 5 1/2 feet, and the mist used to hang at about 6 feet in no man’s land, so he wasn’t visible above the mist. And that stayed with me. And that was the story I found I wanted to tell.” An emotional roller coaster from start to finish, 1917 may be one of the best war movies ever made and is the frontrunner to win this year’s Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.

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