4.5 out of 5 star rating
The combination of talents like director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049) should make all fans of film sit up and take notice. A story that is based in the stories from Mendes grandfather and using the one-shot formatting of Deakins will draw fans to 1917. The expectation is high for this project and it manages to deliver on a scale that will leave audiences in awe as the credits roll.
Even with names like Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and Mark Strong in the title credits, this is a personal and immersive journey of two young British Corporals on 6 April, 1917. Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are asked to go on an impossible mission across the Hindenburg Line to stop the Operation Alberich. An assault that is being undertaken to take advantage of an apparent German retreat. Corporal Blake is motivated to get this message through to the front line because his brother is amongst the soldiers slated for this catastrophic attack.
The two men must cross the battlefield that is strewn with dead bodies, traps and unexpected obstacles. During their covert excursion into enemy territory they must trust one another with their lives and determine if they have the courage to see the assignment through to completion. The Germans give the impression that they have left all behind and are preparing for a final standoff. These forces leave behind destruction as they move across the French countryside. Land that is filled with despair and danger that await the two infantrymen as they must traverse the war-torn country to deliver their message of salvation for 1600 men.
From the opening scene of the French landscape, the innovative filmmaking technique and storytelling will draw audiences into this compelling mission. A fictitious tale that is based on the stories told to Mendes by his grandfather could lead viewers to think this journey really occurred. The immersive nature of the filming provides an intimate element that will cause many to believe they are in the trenches with the soldiers. MacKay and Chapman deliver the performances of their careers. They provide an experience that shows the soldiers camaraderie and tenacity to make everyone sit on the edge of their seat yearning for them to accomplish their goal.
Similar to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, this is a film that will sweep the audience into the action in a grand panoramic fashion. The visual experience is mesmerising, but this does lead to slow and anaemic development of the characters. Though each step of the journey does provide glimpses into the hearts of these men. This investment in the soldiers takes time and may cause some to find it hard to care about their experiences. Both actors provide visceral and raw performances that offer empathy for their various plights. Still, it is not until the end of each of their journeys that we are allowed to really know their motivations and backstories. Not that this diminishes the value of the film. It is merely acknowledging that this film does contain a small chink in its armour.
The Mendes / Deakins pairing is a brilliant combination of two artists whose works should have come together long ago. This is a film that should be experienced only in cinemas to truly be appreciated for what it has done to move the film into another realm. A film that will garner deserved award recognition in the coming months and is a celebration of two masters working well together to deliver a masterwork.
Reel Dialogue: God is an innovator
Male camaraderie, determination, and salvation are just some of the themes provided by 1917 for potential discussion. Still, the topic for Reel Dialogue is going to be innovation.
This production shows the creativity of mankind from behind and in front of the camera. The innovative process of film directors and their teams to deliver new ways for people to be involved in the storytelling process. It is inspiring to see how creative individuals can continue to push the edge of expectation and deliver something new for audiences.
This is shown in front of the camera by the depiction of humanity's ability to be innovative in the face of difficulty. We can see how the military leaders look to unconventional methods of saving the lives of thousands of soldiers and how these efforts play out on the screen. It is surprising to see both aspects of human ingenuity, but should it really amaze us?
In looking at history and even the Bible, people have been continually taking society to new levels of invention. Many around the world would credit this desire to create is a family trait given to us by God.
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good." Genesis 1
God began with nothing and brought forward, well, everything. This includes man and woman, which the Bible goes on to say that we bear His image. Which may help to answer the question, why is mankind so innovative, because we take after our creator Father. It's all in the family.
Odd that you would use a movie of yet another pointless war to demonstrate the claimed power of your god? And a war where both sides no doubt did pray to that very same god for deliverance and victory.
Then again,the utter futility of praying to a god whose supposed claim to fame includes genocide is probably fitting.
So... well done!
Praise the LORD.Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1
This is fantastic that you read my review. That is amazing that you would take the time to read through my review and then for you to reach out to me in the process.
I find it fascinating that you would even come to our website at all and want to discuss things about God. This is great!
I do apologise, I won’t be doing a back and forth on your questions on this review. If you would like to get together for a coffee to discuss the topics you brought up, I would welcome this opportunity. See when it works best on your schedule.
Thanks again, this is amazing that you would want to discuss the subject of God and the issues of this world from a film review. Well done, mate.
Thanks for the reply.
‘’I find it fascinating that you would even come to our website at all and want to discuss things about God. This is great!’’
I am surprised you find my visit fascinating. After all, according to David Robertson, ‘’The Third Space website is a Third Space for non -Christians… ‘’
I am a non-Christian.
Therefore as per the invite, I read it and comment on it.
Were all current contributors to Third Space not informed of this?
‘’I do apologise, I won’t be doing a back and forth on your questions on this review. If you would like to get together for a coffee to discuss the topics you brought up, I would welcome this opportunity. See when it works best on your schedule.’’
I live half way around the world from you – you reside in Australia, yes? Therefore coffee and chat might be a tad difficult. Surely, however, this is what the internet is for – communication across the miles?
Virtual coffee and a chat, yes? Well, real coffee in fact.
I realised that I didn’t actually pose a question in my comment, however, as you raise the subject; what do you think was the reaction of Yahweh, to all the prayers offered up by German and Allied soldiers alike, especially before and after such engagements as the Battles of the Somme?
Interested in your thoughts.
Thanks for the line. The Third Space team engages with people all the time with questions and know that people from different faith positions read our material. There was no irony in my statement, merely that it is always fascinating and encouraging when people reach out to me through my writing. Any writer is always motivated to know someone is reading their material. Thanks for the encouragement, Douglas.
The main problem with this form of communication is you cannot convey tone and it is difficult to truly develop a relationship of trust. A chat over a coffee is preferred, but I will try to answer your question in this format, even though there have been a multitude of books written on it.
That is a massive question and not a surprising answer. The majority of the people of the world believe in a god of some type. Those who claim to be Christians, regardless of what country or what army they may be in are encouraged to talk directly to God through prayer. For those about to go into battle, it is not surprising they would pray.
'In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.' Romans 8:26
In basic terms, prayer does three things:
1. It provides us with a direct line of communication to God. The Bible shows us that God is personal and we can talk with him whenever we like.
2. Prayer gives us peace of mind and heart
3. We can find help in a time of need
(There is more to it, but this is a good start)
Just like right now, I am praying you would understand what I am trying to convey to you on a complex subject in a simple answer on a blog. Like the men in the trenches of France, I have to trust God you will do with this conversation what he will.
We do have contacts all over the world who would love to sit down and go into detail the deeper answers in relationship to the topics of war, prayer and God. If you would like to catch up with someone in your community, I would love to connect you with someone to chat about these topics in person. The coffee and the conversation is so much richer in person.
Hope you are well, mate.
Thanks for the reply, Russ.
''.....know that people from different faith positions...'''
Just to clarify. I am an atheist so I don't actually have a ''faith position''.
I'd love to get into the aspects of prayer that you have listed, however, the points you raised don't actually address my question. I realize these things sometimes get lost in the general comment so let me isolate it for you.
''what do you think was the reaction of YAHWEH, to all the prayers offered up by German and Allied soldiers alike, especially before and after such engagements as the Battle of the Somme?''
(My emphasis on Yahweh)
From the Germans... Why are you praying to me when your leaders thought Social Darwinism was an excuse to invade other countries?
From the Belgians... Why are you praying to me when your country enriched itself by raping the Congo?
From the British.... Ah! People who speak my language!
(But seriously, the Somme's horrific bloodshed in 1916 probably won the war for the British.each, because the Germans came out of it even worse. As for what JHWH thought, it was possibly a complete disgust at witnessing a self-inflicted Christian Shoah.)
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Russ Matthews works for City Bible Forum as the Engaging Manager. He enjoys developing large public forums throughout the city to engage workers with the bigger questions of life. He oversees The Edge and Reel Dialogue.