The British war epic directed by Sam Mendes wasn’t a film on my radar until the Oscar buzz a few months ago. But when Roger Deakins is at the helm of the cinematography department in a Mendes flick, one can’t help but wonder what these two would accomplish together since their much-acclaimed Bond film, Skyfall in 2012 was one, if not the best, in the series.

1917 tells the story of two young soldiers, William Schofield (George McKay) and Thomas Blake (Dean Charles Chapman) who are tasked with delivering a message to call off an attack that could potentially save the lives of 1600 men, including Blake’s own brother. The film depicts the brutality of war in a never-seen-before fashion, in real-time through the use of long takes to make it appear as one single continuous shot. And the result is beautiful.

The flick itself is a technical marvel and is very much worthy of the debate that argues whether it deserved the Best Picture Oscar over Parasite. The elaborate choreography at times boggled my mind over how it was all pulled off. Apart from the technicality of the whole thing, the story itself plays with the viewer’s feelings, dragging us from nail-biting suspense to the shocks and emotional intimate moments between the two leads. One particular moment involving a trip-wire and a collapsing bunker was one of those edge-of-your-seat moments that any other film would be cutting between multiple shots but the use of a long take just added galactically to the intensity.

Not surprisingly, the score has a crucial role in taking us through the entire journey. And sometimes, it can be simply a soldier singing the Wayfaring Stranger that settles the character and viewer back into the silence that is itself a part of a great war movie. Never before had I enjoyed a war film as much as I did with 1917 – I could hardly take my eyes off the screen.

The film is also filled with more recognizable faces cameoing throughout, from actors such as Mark Strong to Benedict Cumberbatch and even Richard Madden. Given that this film is currently in Sri Lankan theatres, a cinematic viewing of this epic film is highly recommended, after all that’s the only place where you could experience this masterpiece it as the filmmakers intended the audience to.

Courtesy of Akash SK