It's not every day that a film can take your breath away in multiple scenes. Most films have a shot that can't be scrubbed out of the viewer's mind, but "1917" has sequences that will long influence the way war films are made.
The plot is not complex: two British soldiers are asked to go deep in enemy territory to deliver a message and save the lives of thousands during World War I.
This film never trips over itself. It's battle sequences rival that of "The Thin Red Line." It's emotional resonance hits like "Saving Private Ryan." And it captures a similar realism of films like "Apocalypse Now" and "Full Metal Jacket."
For the most part, this film has been regarded over it's technical brilliance. Single shots that feel like they last upwards of 15 minutes. Fluid camera motions that have one eye fixated on the leads and the other making sure you're aware of the ever present danger of war. Transitioning from muddy, charred landscapes to dark, crumbling ruins of French cities feels like nothing I've ever seen before. All these aspects set to a goosebump-inducing score makes this film a work of art.
Director Sam Mendes, cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Thomas Newman are the biggest reasons why this film has succeeded. It's almost dumbfounding to consider how long they spent setting up every trench shot.
Watching the soldiers traverse through mud-filled craters that have a disturbing amount of rats, seeing hundreds of troops sprint out of trenches that seemingly run for miles, and watching the leads navigate through a countryside that's been ripped apart by war is mesmerizing.
Even hours after the film concluded, I couldn't help but listen to Newman's score. The composer has amazingly been nominated for 15 Oscars but never won.
What will be less likely discussed are the leads: George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman. MacKay plays Lance Corporal Schofield and Chapman plays Lance Corporal Blake. The chemistry between the soldiers feels like they've been together for years. They're always picking each other up—literally—and exchanging jokes amid an incredibly serious time.
These two will be stars one day, I'm sure of it. MacKay in particular blew me away and made me wonder why I'd never heard much about him outside of this film.
Again, the film doesn't have a sophisticated, genre redefining story. There will be times where you will question how would that work and what time is it. Coincidences do muck up the story at times.
And don't get caught up trying to catch the edits in the film, the camera handles it for you. Even though I'm raving about it, I'd even call this "Oscar bait," a film the Academy loves to reward often.
But none of that stuff matters to me because I feel like this film will inspire the movie making technicians of the future.
"1917" is nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture.