The year is 1917 and World War I is exploding across Europe. Two young soldiers are tasked with the mission of crossing No Man’s Land to bring urgent orders to another troop before they march right into a German trap and, so, the movie follows these two boys in one, almost continuous take and it’s absolutely amazing even though the story is nothing we haven’t seen before… the way it is presented is.
1917 is less about the story than the execution. After all, we’ve seen this type of movie with the likes of Saving Private Ryan and a slew of others. The hook of 1917 is the presentation and the ability of this movie to present almost the entire film in one, long continuous take – with one interruption when a character is knocked out.
This movie is a feat…. it’s one of those films that you watch and continually wonder how they did what you’re watching. The way that the camera moves down a crater with the characters and then only inches over a muddy pool and then up again… how did they do that without disturbing the water? I’m sure there were rigs and wires and computer trickery, but the result is outstanding nonetheless.
The story is secondary, but that’s not an insult. While the movie lacks many of the viceral, emotional beats that movies like, say, Saving Private Ryan has, it is still a story of bravery and it is told in bold, new ways. You cannot help in being caught up in it all.
To sum up, 1917 is an achievement. The story is nothing novel, but the way it is presented is engrossing and exciting… you can feel the ticking clock, you can practically hear the boys’ heartbeats as they trudge through enemy territory, and you cannot help your own hear from beating through your own chest.