Rating: A, plain and simple.
Basically: I’m a sucker for one shots sooooo…
Summary: Reverse Saving Private Ryan in real time.
Definitely see this in a movie theater, on the IMAX-iest, Dolb-iest screen you can. We might just want to get the Oscar’s out of the way. 1917 is probably going to snatch up all the technical categories. Best Director, check, best sound, best this, best that. Not saying they’re not deserved- 1917 is an extremely special gem that’s not too overdramatic, not too overdone, not too long, and not too shiny, all while being extremely polished. It’s got a little bit of everything (even humor)! I don’t know how else to explain it- it’s just incredibly well balanced. Even.
Also, it’s all done in (seemingly) one shot, the real key to my heart. Long takes are fun! I remember when I first started noticing impressive shots (Thanks LOTR!), then somewhat long takes (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 4 finale- don’t @ me), and then reallyyyyy long takes (Much Ado About Nothing). They’re impressive, plain and simple. There’s a lot of thought and construction involved. Lots of planning and collaboration. Lots of risk and a hell lot of reward. It’s one of those things I’ll go out of my way for, sit down and watch multiple times, try to figure it out, watch the behind the scenes of. Just a long lasting “movie magic” technique that has stood the test of time, always being done differently, incorporating other technologies. We’ve had a lot of memorable ones in the past few years: Season one of True Detective, The Watchers on the Wall and Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones, La La Land, Bad Times at the El Royale, Children of Men, Atonement, Birdman, The Revenant, Creed, Spectre (another Sam Mendes movie- also James Bond and fuck, I hope Cary Fukunaga incorporates at least two of these somewhere in No Time to Die). Even Game Night had a lot of fun with this. Did I miss any? Holler at me.
I could very well be wrong about this but it’s always come off as a little bit of a flex move on the director’s part because it is meticulous- and this is a two-hour flex move. 1917 is no small feat as we’re brought in and out of trenches, through houses, over a bridge, around a farm. But instead of spending all my time trying to figure out how they were maneuvering the camera or where the edits took place, I was able to get absorbed in the story. The one shot successfully draws you in following two soldiers on their mission- at various points, things got so tense that I almost forgot about the one-shot gimmick. There are some movies that require you to keep an eye out for technique over the storyline, but this is a movie that I would watch to watch over and over again for both of those aspects.
I’m hoping that 1917 reminds people that movies take a lot of work to make, and spawns more interesting in the “how” aspect of filmmaking. I feel like with the rise of streaming, we’ve lost a lot of those nice behind the scenes footage that made me really appreciate the work as a whole. I’m probably going to go out of my way to get the Blu-ray of this- I haven’t bought a DVD in ages, but it will be money well spent.