1917 depicts harrowing, intimate journey through World War I

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In his new movie 1917, director Sam Mendes tells the story of young corporals Blake (Chapman) and Schofield (MacKay) and their race against time to deliver a life-saving message to a distant World War I battalion that will be ambushed if not warned. 

This movie had numerous strengths, with its use of suspense and its willingness to present the unexpected standing out. By focusing on the isolation of these two soldiers’ journey to deliver, the filmmakers provide an intimate, personal experience rather than focusing on the broader scope of the war.

One important aspect of this film was that it never shied away from any of the darker aspects of World War I. It made us empathize with the young men so willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause, and the horrors that they had to endure.  

As a member of a younger demographic, it is easy to become desensitized to such violence portrayed on screen because of countless films that might glorify some aspects of war, but this film is a grim reminder of how dire these situations can become by showcasing the bloodier and gorier sides of the battle. This movie provides a good way for younger generations to begin to comprehend the true significance of such battles and how they might relate to current events.

Finally, the film’s acting and cinematography was nothing if not award-worthy. Of the ensemble, Mackay stands out, expertly capturing Schofield’s quiet loyalty and portraying his growth through all the trials he had to overcome. As an actor, the content he was given was heavy duty and not only emotionally but physically taxing, making his performance that much more impressive. Also, you can’t miss the plethora of UK talent playing supporting characters, including Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard Madden. Each enriched the narrative with their contributions. The cinematography entrenched us deeper into this war-torn front in France by including a variety of sets that ranged from isolating to expansive, all in one movie. Long-winding shots in the trenches, seemingly endless in nature, are particularly striking. Clever use of lighting lets the director present a French city that has been transformed into a hellscape. The entire look of the movie stands out and is not to be missed.

Although this is a movie whose subject matter might not seem to be popular among our age group, it is well worth going to see how it adds suspense, action, and most importantly heart, into a war story that gets your pulse racing from start to finish.