1917 | Kilburnlad | Film | Reviews



This is a film that must be seen at the cinema. It's all about the cinematography, taking what is quite a simple plot and drawing you in because of the completely immersive nature of the filming. It is, quite simply, one continuous shot, and if you take time while watching to ask yourself, 'How did they take that shot', you will realise just how amazing the end result is. This video gives you a flavour of what was involved.

Set on the Western Front in April 1917, two British lance corporals, Blake and Schofield, are given a mission to deliver a message to the isolated Devonshire regiment. Reconnaissance has shown that the front where Blake and Schofield are based has been abandoned by the Germans, who have retreated and concentrated their troops ready to take on the Devonshire Regiment, which is unaware of the circumstances. If they attack they will sustain heavy losses. Blake has a brother, Joseph, with the Devonshires and willingly accepts the orders in the interest of saving him. Schofield is far less keen.

And so we follow the two of them, literally, the camera always being just behind, to the side or in front of the duo. We see them tentatively go over the top, to the amazement of the troops nestling in the trenches, and make their way cautiously across the crater strewn no man's land. Was the reconnaissance reliable?

Their destination is a wood on the other side of a town named Écoust-Saint-Mein and on the way they encounter the abandoned German dugouts and heavy guns, which have been rendered unusable. But although there are no signs of the Germans, an incident occurs that will be a complete game-changer. To say more would ruin the film for you. In fact to say much more about this film will give away too much. I would simply say that you need to see it to appreciate what is a completely different approach to action photography.

Our two heroes, Schofield and Blake, are played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, but along the way are a succession of more famous names, including Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott and Richard Madden, all playing small but important parts. Andrew Scott leans on his hot priest role in Fleabag as he blesses the two soldiers before they go over the top, being convinced that they won't make more than a few yards.


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