I’m not a fan of war movies.

I mean that in the sense that I’ve not watched a lot of war movies. The last war movie I watched was probably Fury, that movie with Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, and a tank.

With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed 1917. It’s a war film that takes the buzzword “personal” to an entirely new level. Director Sam Mendes has been promoting the one-take filming technique of the movie and I can say with satisfaction that he nailed it.

War, Condensed Into A Day

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As one would figure out from a glance, the film is set during World War I. It takes the viewer on a journey with two British soldiers tasked with relaying a vital message. Failure would mean more than 1,600 of their comrades being killed.

You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this film. Merely knowing which countries fought in World War I is more than enough.

If you’re one of those people who love watching realistic portrayals of trench warfare, 1917 will undoubtedly please you.

One-Take Wonder

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The camera often orbits around the two central characters similar to most third-person shooters. I felt as if I was walking along with the soldiers as they trudged through their painful quest. Every bullet shot felt visceral, every artillery blast felt like it could blow me to smithereens.

Granting the viewers this level of intimacy with the characters gave life to every expression the characters made. The dialogue isn’t memorable but it doesn’t need to be. Viewers will go home remembering each gasp and groan the soldiers make.

Most of the time, you’ll be looking at the backs of the main characters. Despite that, I still found the movie to be breathtakingly beautiful.

There’s one particular nighttime scene where flares become the only source of light and the brilliant mix of lighting and movement had my jaw on the floor. It’s cinematography at its finest!

A Great Start For 2020

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There’s not much to complain here. Chinks in the one-take armour do appear here and there, but not to the point that it ruins anything. If you’re attentive enough, you’ll spot the shortcuts but they’re still forgivable.

Whether you’re a fan of war drama films or not, I strongly recommend giving 1917 a watch. It’s a heavy film but it doesn’t require any in-depth knowledge of history or warfare. Essentially, it’s drama done right.

FINAL SCORE: 100/100

We received a preview screening courtesy of United International Pictures Malaysia. 1917 premieres in Malaysian cinemas on 16 January 2020.

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