‘1917’ captivates audiences, claims multiple Oscars

1917 hit theaters over a month ago and has taken the film industry by storm. In a race against time, two men must halt a British attack that is bound to lose thousands of soldiers.

Photo contributed by IMDb

1917 hit theaters over a month ago and has taken the film industry by storm. In a race against time, two men must halt a British attack that is bound to lose thousands of soldiers.

Ethan Frank ’20

Ten Academy Award nominations. Over $200 million at the box office. Golden Globe wins in the two most important categories. Director Sam Mendes’ “1917” has taken the film industry by storm, and his masterpiece, “1917,” won three Oscars at the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9 in the categories of “Achievement in Visual Effects,” “Achievement in Sound Mixing” and “Cinematography.”
The plot of the story came from stories told to director Sam Mendes by his grandfather, Alfred Mendes. Set in the heart of World War I, two men, Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay), are tasked to deliver an urgent message to the front lines of the British army.
At the beginning of Blake and Schofield’s journey, they have to take the risk of going into the supposedly empty German trench. They enter and the men look through dead bodies and sandbags until they find a door to a tunnel. Within the tunnel, they find the German’s quarters are much nicer than their own, but they do see multiple gnarly rats. The rats cause a tripwire to go off, leading to the first jump-scare of the film. This portion of the film was able to develop the relationship between Blake and Schofield further, and also establish how difficult the journey would be and what kind of obstacles the two men would face.
As Schofield makes his way to the front lines after a treacherous journey, losing Blake along the way, he makes his way through the trench, running by other soldiers and asking commanders where the Colonel is. In the most epic scene of the film, Schofield decides to climb out of the trench, and into the line of fire as the first wave of soldiers charges toward the Germans.
In this scene, Schofield is running through charging soldiers as bombs are being dropped from above. Multiple times, unscripted, he is knocked down by soldiers who are charging towards the Germans. The overlaying music contributed to the drama of the moment; at this time, large numbers of soldiers were being killed by the minute, and the urgent message had to be delivered to the Colonel. The climax of the film delivered and gave viewers an ending they deserved, and an Academy Award winner in numerous categories.
The film captured the horrific conditions of the war, in which people trekked through the trenches engulfed in mud, rats and disease. The fate of the war could have relied on these two men to get the message to the Colonel at the front line.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins shaped the film to look as if it was simply just two long shots. Throughout the film, it felt as if you were the third person on the journey, alongside Blake and Schofield. Other popular films that Deakins worked on include “The Shawshank Redemption,” “No Country for Old Men” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Deakins’ work on the film has won him his second Academy Award in three years, the first being for “Blade Runner 2049” in 2018, along with his 14 other nominations.
War movies are nothing new, but the ability for the audience to relate with the characters in a completely new way, and have an urgent goal in a short time frame, allowed the audience to sit back, relax, and enjoy the action. “1917” has so many quality aspects about it, with Sam Mendes’ vision for the film fulfilled, and in the process, he created a Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards.