Jump to content
Ser Scot A Ellison

1917 film (spoilers)

Recommended Posts

I haven’t seen criticism about lack of characterisation but I feel like I’d have my head in my hands if anyone said that to me.

The movie did a brilliant job of communicating characters and it did it mostly without words. 
 

I totally agree that one of my favourite aspects of the movie was that it didn’t just ladle on the standard hollywood cliches, and that it felt real. There were moments where I was watching it and imagining a much worse director had made it and the main character would be pumping out inspirational sound bites like ‘ you can make it! Just one more hill!!’

But it had none of that. Characters talked like real people when they did speak . They were in the moment and weren’t just exposition machines.


On the technical side I remember seeing that shot from the trailer of him running across the trench as everyone is running out, thinking it looked fake and I could see the compositing. But then saw footage of them shooting it and it was almost all completely real, everything done for real. Just incredible

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/10/2020 at 11:36 AM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I didn’t see the film in IMAX but is was on a very large screen.  I can’t see that IMAX wouldn’t help.

Indeed. It's almost as if watching something on a larger screen makes for a better viewing experience. Who'd have thought it? :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, red snow said:

I enjoyed it quite a bit - it was refreshing to have a film focus on WWI instead of WWII. I really don't get some of the negative comments about the characterisation being thin/not being overly invested in the leads. I very quickly became attached to them and genuinely cared as to whether they'd make it. There's only so much characterisation you can do in a "real time" film and I thought they really cut the point and that there was also a lot of subtext (eg you just knew that shit had gone down for one of them at the somme). There also wasn't any "I'm doing this because" speeches particularly for the character who was just along for the ride yet I was pretty confident why he was putting himself through such danger.

  Reveal hidden contents

because of the comradery he felt for other soldiers even if he'd never met them and later because his friend's death had to count for something. That and he seemed to be a genuinely brave hero who got shit done with very little in the way of complaining

. The two leads were also good at being likeable which is useful in this type of film. Basically I think you have to be a little bit cold not to care at all about the leads.

The set pieces were all great and the tension was maintained throughout. The ruins/war zone at night was beautiful and dreamlike.

My only real criticism was that I was often taken out of the film by speculating on how on earth they'd filmed particular sequences and spotting potential cuts. I don't think I've watched a film before where I've been thinking I might actually enjoy the "making of" feature more than the film itself. As such the film was at its best when I could just enjoy the film for what it was. Hopefully repeat viewings after seeing some "making of" footage will allow me to that for the duration. It also highlights to me how there is a fine-line between technical mastery and storytelling. That said I totally get the idea behind the "one-take" approach and how it made you feel like you were the third soldier for most of the film. Has anyone tried this type of technique with horror yet? I know there's all the "lost footage/cam" horror films but I imagine you could achieve a really tense horror with the approach Mendes used here.

This is what I had the whole time. This had the feel of campaign mode in Call of Duty. You were the third person and the leads were guiding you through the game, showing you the way points and along the journey you would run into people just standing there talking and giving you clues where to go next. Even when he was in the ruin city alone, he had that one German chasing him with the gun. He finds refuge with the girl for a bit and then not long after running around on the streets the same "berzerker" German starts chasing him again, absolutely felt like a video game there.

I liked the movie, the way it was cut and that it never strayed from what it was trying to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Spockydog said:

Indeed. It's almost as if watching something on a larger screen makes for a better viewing experience. Who'd have thought it? :P

Oh, bite me.  :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent film. And to think it was based off a story Mendes heard from his grandfather(?) about WW1. Those two hours flew buy. Very tense and emotional. The note on the back of the photo at the end of the film sealed the film for me. Perfect ending.

Characterization was excellent. There was slow understated revealing of the characters through their words, actions and  . . . personal belongings. Even the bit characters held more characterization than half of the drivel I watch these days. 

 At times the constant tracking shot was a little disorienting, but it made for a very immersive storytelling experience. 

I may have to read more about the units involved and the offensive depicted in the film, as I'm quite interested in First World War.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Astromech said:

I may have to read more about the units involved and the offensive depicted in the film, as I'm quite interested in First World War.

Did you see Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old

It’s incredible. WW1 films cracked my top 10 two years in a row. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Nictarion said:

Did you see Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old

It’s incredible. WW1 films cracked my top 10 two years in a row. 

The moment the footage changed from old WW1 footage to the remastered footage was a real holy shit moment for me.

Looking forward to this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Nictarion said:

Did you see Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old

It’s incredible. WW1 films cracked my top 10 two years in a row. 

Yes, it was fascinating. Really captured the tragedy and surrealism of the Great War.

I also found Apocalypse: WW1 and 14 - Diaries of the Great War very interesting.

I've had the Australian film, Beneath Hill 60 on my watch for a while now. I should look into that now that I think of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally able to catch this. What an incredible movie. I know that everyone is gushing over the cinematography, which is top notch, and the soundtrack, too, but I also have to give major props to the set decoration. The apocalyptic battlefield of WWI became a character of its own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw this on Friday. I did enjoy it a lot, and was particularly impressed by the two lead actors. That said, it did to me still feel a bit "Hollywood-ized" - not annoyingly or overwhelmingly, but here and there. Blake talking about his family orchard for example, not long before

Spoiler

he dies

There was nothing wrong with the performances of Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth (who almost managed to disappear into his character) and Andrew Scott; however, I think the film would have done better by casting less recognizable faces. Seeing them took me out of the story too much. 

Also, I felt that in general the soldiers of "our side" were overly idealized. I wonder if that partly comes from Sam Mendes's grandfather providing the seed for the story; if mentally you're populating the British Army with "my lovely granddad and other people like him" it's hard to show any darker side. I admit that feeling partly comes from my misery over Brexit -  WW1 & WW2 movies aren't completely to blame for the vote to go the way it did, but I don't think they helped in shaping the way Britain sees itself. 

 Last year I watched the 2017 film of Journey's End - while the latter can't hold a candle to Roger Deakins's cinematography or compete with the jump-scares, I think it's still a much better film about the experience of war itself, albeit from more of an officer's perspective. Since its author fought in it, that probably isn't surprising. 

One minor gripe is that the film used the song Poor Wayfaring Stranger - as far as I know, it's from the American folk tradition and so its use sounded off to me in the scene in the forest. Lovely song, I just don't think it had been popularised in the UK by the time of WW1. 

According to Wikipedia, Alfred Mendes was a writer himself; at some point I should really try and find something he wrote. 

 

Edited by dog-days

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, dog-days said:

One minor gripe is that the film used the song Poor Wayfaring Stranger - as far as I know, it's from the American folk tradition and so its use sounded off to me in the scene in the forest. Lovely song, I just don't think it had been popularised in the UK by the time of WW1. 

 

Those were Canadian Troops hence the little maple leafs on their arms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Slurktan said:

Those were Canadian Troops hence the little maple leafs on their arms.

Ah - well that probably makes more sense. Don't know anything about Canadian music beyond Cape Breton. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whoa. I'm glad I just checked showtimes. The two theaters around here showing it are only doing so until Thursday.

Better go watch tonight.

Edited by A True Kaniggit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, A True Kaniggit said:

Whoa. I'm glad I just checked showtimes. The two theaters around here showing it are only doing so until Thursday.

Better go watch tonight.

It's pretty great. Don't forget to bring a smile. You'll need it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw this yesterday, it was a good film.  I loved the set design and cinematography, and the understated acting was great.  None of the big name actors took me out of the moment at all, except for possibly Cumberbatch, and he's only in one scene.  I liked that the two main actors were people I didn't recognize, and that they gave generally pretty understated performances.

I have to assume that the Germans in that one town were all drunk, because otherwise their poor shooting is just astonishing.  But seeing what was happening and how dangerous that sort of rear guard action is, it is quite believable that they would be drunk if alcohol could be found.

Aside from that one bout of horrendous shooting, there weren't too many "Hollywood moments", which I definitely appreciated. 

On 1/13/2020 at 4:59 PM, red snow said:

Has anyone tried this type of technique with horror yet? I know there's all the "lost footage/cam" horror films but I imagine you could achieve a really tense horror with the approach Mendes used here.

Yes, Hitchcock's Rope did it back in 1948.  More recently, Silent House (both the 2010 Uruguayan and 2011 Hollywood remake) use this technique.  Other films have done it since then.  I haven't seen any of those films, so I cannot comment on how successful they were. 

Edited by Maithanet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just assumed when watching it that those rifles accuracy wasn’t great. Add in a bunch of panic shots , in the dark, whilst moving and it didn’t bother me they didn’t hit their target.

I don’t know enough about WW1 rifles to guess at how accurate they tended to be

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

I saw this yesterday, it was a good film.  I loved the set design and cinematography, and the understated acting was great.  None of the big name actors took me out of the moment at all, except for possibly Cumberbatch, and he's only in one scene.  I liked that the two main actors were people I didn't recognize, and that they gave generally pretty understated performances.

I have to assume that the Germans in that one town were all drunk, because otherwise their poor shooting is just astonishing.  But seeing what was happening and how dangerous that sort of rear guard action is, it is quite believable that they would be drunk if alcohol could be found.

Aside from that one bout of horrendous shooting, there weren't too many "Hollywood moments", which I definitely appreciated. 

Yes, Hitchcock's Rope did it back in 1948.  More recently, Silent House (both the 2010 Uruguayan and 2011 Hollywood remake) use this technique.  Other films have done it since then.  I haven't seen any of those films, so I cannot comment on how successful they were. 

I should have guessed Hitchock would have tried it. Haven't seen any of those films. They might be worth a look just out of technical curiosity.

I think the only time a famous guest appearance distracted me was when Mark Strong appeared. Because of the way he was introduced without seeing his face but hearing his voice I was doing a "whose voice is that?". Turns out he must have a pretty distinctive voice as I worked it out before the reveal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Heartofice said:

I don’t know enough about WW1 rifles to guess at how accurate they tended to be

They were pretty accurate, definitely accurate enough to hit the main character when he's only like 30 yards away.  WW1 rifles were a good bit more accurate than the weapons used in the American Civil War, for example. 

Virtually everyone shooting at the main character (aside from the one sniper) was shooting from the hip while running, which is extremely stupid and inaccurate.  No army would ever teach their soldiers to do that, and veteran German troops 3 years into the war would not be making that mistake.  Thus, the only explanation is that they were drunk.  Which is plausible, given the situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

They were pretty accurate, definitely accurate enough to hit the main character when he's only like 30 yards away.  WW1 rifles were a good bit more accurate than the weapons used in the American Civil War, for example. 

Virtually everyone shooting at the main character (aside from the one sniper) was shooting from the hip while running, which is extremely stupid and inaccurate.  No army would ever teach their soldiers to do that, and veteran German troops 3 years into the war would not be making that mistake.  Thus, the only explanation is that they were drunk.  Which is plausible, given the situation.

One of them was drunk for sure. So it's very possible others were, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×