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1917

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Morgotha, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. Morgotha

    Morgotha Well-Known Member

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    So this is a movie about the events on a single day in WW1, a war which, in America, we don't tend to think about that much. It follows two soldiers chosen for a serious mission - that of telling a front-line battalion that the attack they are planning on the "retreating" German army is actually a trap. There's the added spice of the man who got chosen for the job being told by the general that his brother is in the ill-fated unit, so if he doesn't make it to them on time, his brother will die as well.

    *That* is a dramatic incentive!

    The two experienced soldiers have to cross from their side of the trenches across a (hopefully) abandoned German position to reach another group of British soldiers up ahead and to the side without getting killed in the process. The camera follows them closely, and the whole movie seems to be in a firstish person perspective, which makes everything feel very tangible. When the movie's over, you realize that they didn't really show you a bigger picture of the war, which was probably by design. The movie focuses on these soldiers' experiences, what they know about what's going on (not much) and what they didn't (most things). It's very effective in conveying their perspective.

    Also, the scenery and sets are amazing. They show the men walking through reinforced trench after reinforced trench, and you can't help marvel at how much human labor the soldiers had to expend in building them. It also reinforced how effective poison gases would be in that environment with the heavier than air gas sinking from wherever on the field in to the trenches where the soldiers were. (There's no poison gas in the movie, btw, the thought of that has always been particularly repugnant to me). Anyway, he also shows what the Germans did in retreat, cutting down trees, killing livestock so they couldn't be eaten by the other side, spiking their guns so *they* couldn't be used, etc. Very practical people, the Germans. Hee hee, there are also some hokey coincidences like one of the soldiers finding a pail of fresh milk on an abandoned farm (I really thought it was poisoned - another trap left by the Germans - but it wasn't) and then finding a baby in need of milk. O.k., so even though it's hokey, it was nice and something you don't mind buying into.

    He also shows the horrors of war without being Mel Gibson about it, so you get the idea without being overwhelmed with it. In fact, in a way the horrors of the surroundings seemed almost distant in comparison to the coverage of the death of a soldier and a friend, which is probably how it really is - and it was portrayed well.

    Overall, if I had to describe the movie in one word it would be "unrelenting". It puts pressure on you in the beginning of the film, and doesn't stop. And that's good to show what the soldiers probably really felt, on this particular day. OTOH, it would have been nice to break it up a bit to get a bigger picture of what was going on in the soldiers' lives, or with the war overall, but again, I don't think that was the intent. In any event, the movie was well worth seeing.
     
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  2. Rapscallion

    Rapscallion Well-Known Member

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    I've also seen 1917, and I agree with @Morgotha's description of the film being "Unrelenting". It's a great movie that stays with you after you've left the theater.
     
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  3. Stealth

    Stealth Well-Known Member

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    I loved 1917. We don't see much on World War I in film either. It's kind of ignored, probably because filmmakers are wary of an audience being engaged in a movie where much of the fighting is trench warfare.

    There were minor things like Morgotha mentioned with the Germans leaving the one cow alive with the milk, just so he could give it later to the baby. But I let stuff like that go if the overall film is strong. And this one was.

    My favorite part was the beginning when they crossed through No man's land and then through the German trench. That was so riveting. What Mendes did here was really brilliant in drawing the audience in, it feels like one continuous take throughout the film with no breaks. That's what gives it that unrelenting feel that won't let you go. It's perfect in bringing you into that world. It'll be a crime if they don't win the Oscar for Cinematography. It's not just the best of the year in that regard, but one many filmmakers will look to in the future for direction and inspiration. Great film.
     
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  4. lastcat3

    lastcat3 Well-Known Member

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    Saw this movie last night and it indeed was very good. Definitely gave you the feel for what WWI was like. After watching movies like this I like to do a little research and find out how much of the story is actually true.

    Turns out the movie is very loosely based on stories the filmmakers grandfather passed down to him about his experiences during WW1. As with most films that are based on true stories the story within this film is largely a work of fiction. The two main characters at the beginning of the movie were loosely based on the filmmakers grandfather. During a battle in October of 1917 hundreds of British soldiers were given the task of reclaiming the village of Poelcappelle. It did not go well and 158 of the 484 soldiers were either killed, wounded, or unaccounted for. Many of the men were scattered across no man's land and when the commanding officer asked for a runner to go locate the men the grandfather volunteered.

    That is pretty much the real story of what this movie is based on.
     
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