Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Mays, Adrian Scarborough, Jamie Parker, Elliot Baxter
Written by: Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Directed by: Sam Mendes
MPAA Rating: R for violence, some disturbing images, and language
Running Time: 118
Date: 12/25/2019

1917 (2019)

4 Stars (out of 4)

War Flair

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Inspired by stories told to him by his grandfather, director Sam Mendes creates this truly impressive war movie, one that ranks with the genre's very best. With cinematography by Roger Deakins (who also worked with Mendes on the excellent Skyfall, as well as other films), 1917 is crafted to look and feel like one, long unbroken shot, although there are secret edits throughout. George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman as a pair of Lance Corporals in the first World War, sent on a dangerous mission across the French countryside to warn another battalion of a deadly ambush. They cross through enemy trenches, past overturned tanks, through cherry orchards, muddy roads, collapsed bridges, etc. A plane crashes near where they're standing, and, rising and falling flares cast the most amazing play of light on ruined buildings. Without visible cuts 1917 has an entirely different feel from an ordinary movie (and even different from Birdman, which did not cover nearly the same amount of territory); there's no cheating time, and there is a sense of the inevitable as we and the characters move inexorably forward. The movie is powerful, suspenseful, moving, shocking, exciting, and even funny, and yet it still manages to deliver an impactful "futility of war" message. It's one of the year's best. Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch appear in small parts as officers.

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