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Film Of The Week War warning

Sam Mendes's 1917 is a grim reminder of the dreadful consequences of armed conflict, says MARIA DUARTE

1917 (15)
Directed by Sam Mendes

WITH the threat of another war looming ever closer courtesy of Trump, Sam Mendes’s visceral war epic is a timely reminder of its futility, carnage and tragedy and why it should be avoided at all costs.

Inspired by the experiences of Mendes’s own grandfather and other men who served in the first world war, the drama is set in the trenches and it’s one of the most immersive cinematic experiences.

It follows the plight of two young British soldiers, played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, who are sent on an impossible mission. They are charged with delivering a vital message across No Man’s Land and deep into enemy territory to stop 1,600 Brits, including the brother of one of the soldiers, walking into a deadly trap.

It’s an excruciatingly tough and intense watch as the action plays out in real time in one long take and a series of continuous shots seamlessly edited as one.

The extraordinary technical and visual virtuosity is down to legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins and film editor Lee Smith but the film’s impact is driven home by the stunning and heartbreaking performances from MacKay, who carries the film, and Chapman as the young, exhausted and scared soldiers who are determined to get the job done.

You soon forget the camerawork as you become invested in their race-against-time suicide mission and the characters they meet on their way. Played by a series of A-list actors, including Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Strong, blink and you will miss their cameos.

Co-writer with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Mendes delivers a powerful yet brutal depiction of warfare set against a vast landscape and massive destruction, counterpointed by the grit and selflessness of these idealistic young men.

Millions died in a conflict dubbed “the war to end all wars,” many on that small stretch of land. It was a tragic waste of life and a stark reminder to warmongering leaders of why history should never be repeated.

 

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