SerjeantWildgoose wrote:1917 - dire beyond measure.
I can see why it won the Oscar for best cinematography as the complexity of capturing such bewildering movement in the famous 'single shot' style is impressive, however:
the performances of the entire cast are either wooden (MacKay), hammed (Cumberbatch, Firth, Strong, Scott and Madden in particular) or simply bad (Chapman, particularly);
the plot is incredible (As in not remotely credible). Mendes says the storyline lodged with him when he was a child, and this makes sense as it is naively infantile;
chapters are blatantly filched from Cold Mountain (The French girl with a hungry baby in the ruins of Écoust), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (The escape by jumping into the river - a river that is sluggish at the point at which the principal first crosses it and yet has become a fast-raging torrent, complete with Niagara Falls, by the time he jumps into it at the other end of the village) and any teen horror flick in which the central character is chased through a darkened forest/building/maze/ruin by a murderous bogeyman;
the absence of historical continuity/accuracy. The journey of the 2 main characters (Both lance corporals) begins in a peaceful glade where they are sunning themselves, passes through a fairly accurate if desperately telescoped depiction of a trench system up to the front line (A fault that is repeated later in the film when within the space of a few yards we are passed back from the shell-shattered front line to another quiet glade where the Regimental Aid Post has been set up in an immaculate canvas tent village) where they are casually briefed by a major general on a the requirement to run a message up to a forward battalion that is about to put in an attack against the new defensive system to which the dastardly Hun has deliberately withdrawn. We are told that one of the 'runners' brother is with the doomed battalion and hence the need to get the message through to call off the attack. This was unnecessary drama, such messages were run a thousand times a day on the Western Front - but I would venture never off the back of a personal briefing by the major general commanding the Division.
The opening titles tell us that this is April 1917, the month in which the British fought the Battles of Vimy Ridge and Arras, and in which the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg line - all of this is correctly captured in the film, right down to the chalk that was such a visible geological feature. What is less accurate is the portrayal of the no mans land immediately in front of the British position. The film was clearly inspired by images of Passchendaele, a battle that didn't begin until June 1917, and didn't become the horror of mud for which it is infamous until the Autumn of that year.
Cashing in historical accuracy for political correctness. I acknowledge that today's British Army is not doing as well as it should in terms of recruiting and retaining enough soldiers from the BAME community, but it is simply ludicrous to put a black or an Asian face in an English county regiment during the Great War. Mendes does both and not infrequently or surreptitiously. If he was aiming to send a message then fair enough, but it must be acknowledged that in doing so he has substantially compromised historical integrity.
The BAFTAs giving it just about every award in its cupboard is ludicrous. Its shyte!
Thanks serj, the bit where he tries to shssssssh the German fella in the ruined town was preposterous also, agree the saving private Ryan brother scenario was also unnecessary
Did blacks/sikhs fight in ww1 just not in English county regiments?