Every few years, brilliant films (Dunkirk, Inglourious Basterds, Saving Private Ryan) remind us of the horrors of the Second World War. That honour has finally again been bestowed on its big brother, World War I, thanks to 1917.
Director Sam Mendes, best-known for the better James Bond films and American Beauty, based the film on his grandfather's stories about the war. Interest in history is not necessary to appreciate 1917 as a film.
By making it a race against time and focusing on two soldiers at the front, Mendes has made a clear and accessible film about that accursed, muddy Great War. Two Brits have to cross the dangerous no man's land and risk their lives to warn the troops that they are about to walk right into a deadly German trap.
The fantastic director of photography Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men, Blade Runner 2049) and the rest of his team have allowed Mendes to make it look as though the film consists of one long, uninterrupted shot. This is not an extraordinary achievement for its own sake, but an efficient way of immersing you in hell on earth.
- US, UK, dir: Sam Mendes, act: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Benedict Cumberbatch