“1917” A cinematic feat for the ages

By Kyler Guebert, Staff Writer

I’ve never been a fan of war movies. They’re dark, gruesome and disturbing and showcase some of the worst atrocities and battles in human history. I’ve also found them to be rather boring overall. I could probably count the number of war films I’ve seen on one hand.

Enter “1917,” a war film directed and co-written by Sam Mendes (“Skyfall”), which follows two young soldiers on a mission to stop a planned British attack that leads them into a German trap. 

Its premiere in early December completely upset the already chaotic awards cycle, receiving guild nominations and awards galore. 

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“1917” popped up on many top 10 lists at the end of 2019 and a week prior to its nationwide release, it earned the Best Director and Best Picture Drama prizes at the Golden Globes.

Conversation about the film increased leading up to its expansion, and many predicted the film would get a lot of love at the Oscars this year (it garnered 10 nominations on Monday, including Picture, Director and Screenplay).

I found myself getting more and more excited to see this film, which was something I had no interest in since its announcement. 

This excitement spread rapidly throughout the movie-going public as the film opened at number one this weekend, unseating “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” from its three week run at number one, with a $36.5 million haul and a solid A- Cinemascore. 

I wholeheartedly understand why it’s garnered so much love. The biggest draw for this film was the fact that it was edited to look like it was done in one take. 

Cinematography legend Roger Deakins pulls off his most impressive work to date, and should easily take home the Oscar he was just nominated for. 

There are shots and scenes in this film that will be studied for years, and I would absolutely recommend you watch this film in theaters on the biggest and best screen you can find.

Because of this one-take strategy, the actors and crew had to hit their marks perfectly every single time, and Mendes deserves so much credit for being able to pull this off. I spent a long time thinking about current working directors who could pull off a film of this magnitude, and I couldn’t come up with hardly any. 

The work of the production design team is meticulous and mesmerizing. Getting to see how the sets and landscapes flowed together so beautifully and effortlessly made for an incredible viewing experience. 

There have been multiple videos and articles released about how they pulled this film off, and I still can’t believe it worked so well. Mendes could end up winning Best Director this year and it’s something I wouldn’t be too upset about. 

George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman lead the film and give incredibly emotional performances that keep you grounded and engrossed in the narrative of the film. 

Supporting performers like Colin Firth, Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch pop up every once in a while and give great performances with the little screen time that they have.

The score by Thomas Newman is sensational and is perfectly balanced with whatever is going on screen. Many expect Newman to win his first Oscar for his work after fourteen previous nominations.

 The sound team also did a fantastic job of adding and blending the war elements of the film with the score, and the film was nominated for both sound categories at the Oscars. 

Sadly, the film was not nominated for an overall editing award, which is an absolute shame. Lee Smith blends the scenes and set pieces so perfectly and beautifully and is literally the reason this film works. 

The entire film literally feels like its unfolding in real-time, and it creates for a pulse-pounding and tense journey that Smith has crafted so well out of Mendes’ vision.

When it comes to Oscar Sunday, I’m expecting to hear the title “1917” a lot. It’s a technical marvel that is as emotional and compelling as it is intense. 

It’s the type of film people will be looking at and studying for years to come for its achievements in film making. I’m already planning on seeing it again, and have even been considering driving two hours to the nearest IMAX screen to do so.

It’s a film that deserves to be seen in theaters, and it was easily one of my best movie-going experiences in months. It’s going to be a big threat at the box office and award ceremonies this year, and it absolutely deserves every accolade and ounce of love it has received so far.

Staff writer Kyler Guebert can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @kguebert88.

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