People might not be unfamiliar with the name of Sam Mendez, but films directed by him are pretty well known to the public, such as American Beauty, Skyfall, and Spectre. Excluding those three movies, he directed several modest dramas such as Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition, and Jarhead. He found moderate success in Hollywood over these years, has received widespread acclaims for his works, and even won several major awards such as BAFTA, Academy Award, and Golden Globe.
Four years after the release of Spectre, Sam Mendes directed a war drama titled 1917. It tells the story of two young soldiers, William Schofield and Tom Blake, who must deliver a message to Colonel Mackenzie on foot. The message contains an order to cancel a scheduled attack that would jeopardize thousands of men. The movie then follows these two men on their journey in the land of war.
Most would agree that the most impressive achievement of 1917 is its technical aspect, mainly thanks to its cinematographer Roger Deakins and editor Lee Smith. It boasts its gimmick of using long takes, which makes the movie feel continuous and real. The filmmakers use this technique to provide a replica of the atmosphere of realistic war. It is indeed successful in raising tension and giving a sense of urgency and dread. We see this realistic depiction from the eyes of these two men and the several challenges they face on their journey. These challenges are brutal and unforgiving, and these might make the viewers holding the breath throughout the film’s duration.
Another amazing element of the movie is its score, composed by Thomas Newman. Newman is a regular collaborator to Sam Mendes, and he has done incredible work in giving a sense of dread and gloom to the journey of these men. The score was nominated for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globe Awards.
To sum it up, 1917 is an honest and visceral image of the brutality of war. It is an impressive achievement in filmmaking, which is also accompanied by great works on its other elements, such as an astounding direction from its director Sam Mendes and an incredible original score from Thomas Newman. The plot might be simplistic, but the events portrayed in the movies are complex and raise several moral questions. The film is a harrowing and once in a lifetime experience, and a quintessential watch for fans of cinema.