Director Sam Mendes’ first attempt at a war film has gained worldwide plaudits for its flawless technique and unequivocal tension and drama, leading to 10 Oscar nominations as well as recent awards at the Golden Globes, including best picture.
The outstanding production, depicting the journey two young British lance corporals must embark on to deliver a message, allows the audience to delve deeper into war-torn France through an astonishing level of detail and ground-breaking cinematography.
Following a strategic withdrawal by the Germans, the perfectly portrayed Schofield and Blake (George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) must defeat near-impossible odds to reach fellow comrades before they fall in the trap and prevent a catastrophic onslaught.
Mendes ambitiously opted for the one-shot technique, giving the sense of a continuous, unedited sequence following the main characters through a multitude of daunting environments and scenes.
The POV-style of a single shot implements various takes and set-ups seamlessly adjoined. This gives a much more up-close and personal feel, plunging the viewer into the thick of war.
The one-shot format has previously been used by Mendes, in the opening scene of Spectre, where the camera tracks James Bond through crowded streets during a day of the dead festival in Mexico City.
And while this was praised and even regarded by many as the most memorable aspect of the film, to stretch out the sequence to a full, 2-hour movie was certainly a huge call – and one which has made 1917 stand out from the hundreds of war stories already in motion picture.