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1917. Saving private Ryan meets World War One.

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I thought it was good but not brilliant. 
 

I felt it was a series of scenes designed to show how terrible the war was using incredibly impressive visuals. I think it will win awards because of its subject matter and as a technically clever piece of film making. 
 

I thought the performances were by the numbers and the characters were pretty forgettable.
 

I feel bad for saying that of course. Probably a 3/5 for me. 

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The most effective part for me was: 

Spoiler

They resisted the urge to have Benedict Cumberbatch’s General be a total twat and ignore the orders to send his men OTT anyway, despite strongly hinting throughout the film that could well happen.  After the harrowing ordeal to deliver the orders I wanted to see the men saved no fuss, and him to find Rob Stark and tell him about his brother (Bran I guess).

 

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I was very ready to love this, eager to see it at the cinema, get from it what i found lacking in Dunkirk. The big screen is the best way to enjoy long sequences where there’s no cuts, was hoping to get the same thrill as i did with The Revenant. 
 

The plot is exactly what you expect knowing the synopsis, like exactly. It’s the most predictable film. Despite the virtuosity of the camera work it often feels more like a tv film than cinema because the casting and acting are poor. One of the two leads is terrible and annoying. The other one looks near identical to the angry lad in Eastenders who resembles Marco Van Basten, something i couldn’t shake. Every captain or lieutenant is played by a well known British actor, most who are good but whose appearance breaks the immersion when you think; oh look there’s...

 

I just wasn’t convinced straight away, the camera follows the two leads for a long time walking through a trench with hundreds of extras who they pass, most smoking. It just didn’t have a proper grim gritty realistic tone to it. I think with war films it’s paramount, it can’t ever feel like actors playing. The second thing i want from a war film is for it to be exhausting. It...isn’t. It all playing out in real time it can’t be really, although they go through a lot on their journey not enough time passes. It often has the sense of being a ride in introducing specific moments that the director wanted to include, either thinking; well we need something visually dramatic here or something humanist. There’s never any sense the soldiers know where they’re really going or you getting a sense of the geography. 

 

The dedication to Mendes’ great (?) grandfather who told stories of World War I that inspired this film kind of explained the tameness, it wasn’t intended to be visceral and explosive, but a neat and despite the ambition of the one take conceit, a small story about i dunno courage and bravery. 
 

Major unpopular opinion now but i sometimes find Deakins’ digital cinematography flat and lacking realism. I find the look of Unbroken for instance horrific, so fake but i guess that’s what the director wanted.
 

The night time sequences in 1917 with the fire casting a silhouette is when Deakins shines. The train robbery in Jesse James is ridiculous, Shawshank is perfect, Fargo too, Prisoners with the rain is amazing, Skyfall is elevated by the beauty of his shots etc etc. But two soldiers walking across a field in a war film, it’s got a soft flat look that doesn’t convince. Other war films might go over the top with the dark shadows, too much contrast and if it had the dry tones but shot on film in the 70s it might have a grit. 

 

Mendes just doesn’t have another level he’s either capable of getting to or the desire to go there.
 

I think getting from this more of a bbc tv film vibe than something purely viscerally cinematic is as damning as you can be. 

 

There’s a scene in a truck with soldiers gabbing on that’s just awful, it couldn’t be less convincing, the dialogue, acting. Just thinking of the overwhelming brutality of other modern war films or the likes of The Revenant, in comparison 1917 is tame. 

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I've not see this yet but I have an issue with the trailer which seems to totally spoil the film...don't read if you don't want my guess spoilers.

 

Spoiler

clearly one of the two leads dies as a chunk of the trailer shows one of the soldiers by himself which doesn't fit with the shooting methodology.   And if one of the last scenes of the trailer isn't in fact the end sequence of the film I'd be stunned.  So no point watching - the one with the brother dies, the other one makes it but just too late to stop the charge - but assume there is a bittersweet ending.  *shrug*

 

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9 minutes ago, Gord said:

I've not see this yet but I have an issue with the trailer which seems to totally spoil the film...don't read if you don't want my guess spoilers.

 

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clearly one of the two leads dies as a chunk of the trailer shows one of the soldiers by himself which doesn't fit with the shooting methodology.   And if one of the last scenes of the trailer isn't in fact the end sequence of the film I'd be stunned.  So no point watching - the one with the brother dies, the other one makes it but just too late to stop the charge - but assume there is a bittersweet ending.  *shrug*

 

Spoiler

yeah pretty much. :lol:


spoilers!!

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I thought it was utterly stunning.... you're not really supposed to get to know the two main characters too much, it's supposed to just be 8 hours in the horror of the war, it could have been 8 hours of any of the people on screen..

 

Tempted to go see the set as its right next to where I work, which I found a little bit off putting as I see those hills on a daily basis...

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I was pretty convinced you’d think it was pants ! ...:lol: i was even gonna say and thought better of it. 

 

I liked the little details like the tank, horses, the dead appear into view as the camera glided across the ground but at the same time it was so neat it felt a little showy, like art school ideas a person would throw out when they’re thinking in that kind of contrived way. But i did like the idea of them moving across this terrain destroyed by war, i just didn’t feel the fear i wanted to. The fear of entering the unknown, fog like an N64 game, not knowing if the germans had retreated. I never felt the grind of war, the hardship, exertion and toil because you literally don’t see it. You see battlefields, trenches, a truck get stuck in mud. 

 

I often think why is it some films feel like they pack a lot into their duration and others don’t, is that how you measure the quality of writing. 1917 is just lazy in that respect, this isn’t a story that’s been ripped up again and again, that’s had layers of detail interwoven into it. I watched Marriage Story in the morning beforehand and that is a film that in 25 minutes builds up so much of the characters history that it’s almost overwhelming. It’s a result of Baumbach properly exploring who they are, packing it in, their quirks, idiosyncracies. Had to roll my eyes in 1917 when one of the lads tells a tale about another guy who had his ear chewed off. It was so shite. Genuinely like something in a bbc drama, that tries and fails to insert the kind of stories a soldier in that time would tell, it’s so simpering and unearned. This isn’t a hardened soldier who has seen things no one should see, who has lost a part of himself despite his age. Obviously they’re kids, hardened..why would they be. I’ve listened to young men after war today talk about what it means to kill someone, how it changed them. This film doesn’t explore that, nor approaching a war film asking; why do we do war, again? It’s just; don’t brothers sort of love each other. 
 

Or when he predictably complains at the other lad for trading his medal for wine. Always the common man portrayed, never remotely intellectual or incisive. Just fill the silence, move to the next bit. I sort of sit up when i watch a film and a character is strikingly smart, filled with thoughts, cynical. That’s one small reason i loved the recent The King, because Henry V played by Chalamet despises war, resents his dad who causes all the strife. He’s a pacifist, it’s so refreshing. Just sees the stupidity of war with such clarity. The lines of dialogue are extraordinary in their intelligence. Funnily enough, his brother in that film is played by the actor in 1917, each time being an idiot. 

 

Ultimately the film doesn’t bother to find ways to make either of them interesting, it doesn’t care to explore their past, their thoughts, tastes. When Matt Damon improvises a childhood story in Saving Private Ryan and he and Hanks can’t stop laughing it was both real and poignant. When Hanks and his soldiers all nearly give up, and Hanks says he’s just a teacher...do the job, go home. When they have a dilemna about killing a german soldier. 

 

I think Dunkirk pretty much rode on its sound design and imax screenings, the immediate thrill of it that faded by year end when year best lists were being compiled. It didn’t win best picture awards. 1917 just happens to have come out nearer to the awards so i can see it winning best picture then like Argo people struggling to remember what won in that year in 15 years time. 

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8 minutes ago, Loik V credern said:

I was pretty convinced you’d think it was pants ! ...:lol: i was even gonna say and thought better of it. 

 

I liked the little details like the tank, horses, the dead appear into view as the camera glided across the ground but at the same time it was so neat it felt a little showy, like art school ideas a person would throw out when they’re thinking in that kind of contrived way. But i did like the idea of them moving across this terrain destroyed by war, i just didn’t feel the fear i wanted to. 

 

I often think why is it some films feel

like they pack a lot into their duration and others don’t, is that how you measure the quality of writing. 1917 is just lazy in that respect, this isn’t a story that’s been ripped up again and again, that’s had layers of detail interwoven into it. I watched Marriage Story in the morning beforehand and that is a film that in 25 minutes builds up so much of the characters history that it’s almost overwhelming. It’s a result of Baumbach properly exploring who they are, packing it in, their quirks, idiosyncracies. Had to roll my eyes in 1917 when one of the lads tells a tale about another guy who had his ear chewed off. It was so shite. Genuinely like something in a bbc drama, that tries and fails to insert the kind of stories a soldier in that time would tell, it’s so simpering and unearned. This isn’t a hardened soldier who has seen things no one should see, who has lost a part of himself despite his age. Obviously they’re kids, hardened..why would they be. I’ve listened to young men after war today talk about what it means to kill someone, how it changed them. This film doesn’t explore that, nor approaching a war film asking; why do we do war, again? It’s just; don’t brothers sort of love each other. 
 

Or when he predictably complains at the other lad for trading his medal for wine. Always the common man portrayed, never remotely intellectual or incisive. Just fill the silence, move to the next bit. I sort of sit up when i watch a film and a character is strikingly smart, filled with thoughts, cynical. That’s one small reason i loved the recent The King, because Henry V played by Chalamet despises war, resents his dad who causes all the strife. He’s a pacifist, it’s so refreshing. Just sees the stupidity of war with such clarity. The lines of dialogue are extraordinary in their intelligence. Funnily enough, his brother in that film is played by the actor in 1917, each time being an idiot. 

 

Ultimately the film doesn’t bother to find ways to make either of them interesting, it doesn’t care to explore their past, their thoughts, tastes. When Matt Damon improvises a childhood story in Saving Private Ryan and he and Hanks can’t stop laughing it was both real and poignant. When Hanks and his soldiers all nearly give up, and Hanks says he’s just a teacher...do the job, go home. When they have a dilemna about killing a german soldier. 

 

I think Dunkirk pretty much rode on its sound design and imax screenings, the immediate thrill of it that faded by year end when year best lists were being compiled. It didn’t win best picture awards. 1917 just happens to have come out nearer to the awards so i can see it winning best picture then like Argo people struggling to remember what won in that year in 15 years time. 


I agree about the ear anecdote. That was pants and really basic. There's another moment where the main guy has to cut off a line of dialogue to have a choke up that was also pure BBC drama of the 80's. But I felt the tenderness and raw emotion really powerfully, i found the physicality really well sold (seriously it must have been knackering to film) and I thought there were just as many really perceptively clever little touches. Like how cynically humourous Moriaty found it the whole thing. 

Also, just seeing a mortar crater with bodies buried into the ground on an Imax screen just really brought home the enormity and fatality of the terrain and the achievement of it all. 

I dont think i'd bother to watch it again at home. But on Imax it thoroughly enthralled me. Dunkirk really didn't. 

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2 hours ago, Loik V credern said:


That’s just because there’s not much film in there. :hat:


Heh. Totally disagree with that. The scope of the thing is what I was most awed by. It's unfathomably large scale. It's just not a narrative as much as it is a roller coaster.

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I’m not sure how I feel about this.

All the characters are incredibly one-dimensional, it ticks off every cliche in the big book of war films and the soundtrack feels massively overbearing at times.

 

There’s no denying it’s an exceptional piece of craftmanship though and it really does hammer home a truly shitty and fucking terrifying period of our history. The set design was astonishing at times but for me it lacks the humanity of war films like Saving Private Ryan.

 

Didn’t help that the cinema screen broke down 40 minutes into the filmand we had to rewatch ten minutes of the movie.

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Very beautifully shot and absorbed me throughout. Didn't feel/care that much for the slightly one dimensional characters.  The main jeopardy moment also felt like I was watching Indiana Jones  - with the leap. Overall though my main issue was the single take. Whilst really technically amazing it also made it feel really small to me. They seemed to move for one frontline to the next across really wet mud, then in mines to dusty landscapes, then grass lands, to forests and rivers. Felt like I was watching a someone play through Breath of the the Wild at times.

 

Overall I was slightly disappointed - was hoping for more.   Well worth going to see though. 3.5/5

 

 

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It turns into the Resident Evil 2 remake at one point. Except not as good 

 

 

Really well made, definitely a brilliant spectacle, but kind of silly. 

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23 minutes ago, deerokus said:

It turns into the Resident Evil 2 remake at one point. Except not as good

 

I've not played the Resident Evil 2 remake. Or much of the original. I was going to ask which bit you mean but i think I know.

 

Spoiler

the knife scuffle?

 

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Saw it again this evening.

 

My thinking was "now I know what happens I can spend more time gawping at the scenery and spotting little details I may have missed first time around".

 

This was true, up until the exact same bit that got me the first time.

 

It's a masterpiece. Just superb.

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4 minutes ago, PeteBrant said:

..Dare i ask why?

He thinks its propaganda and glorifies war.

"It‘s purpose is to invoking the meaning-rich earnest nobility of struggle through adversity in war. This is the same promise sorry mission statement sorry lie offered by war makers to mostly young men drifting in the pallid meaning void of emotion-as-commodity modernity."

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Just now, kerraig UK said:

He thinks its propaganda and glorifies war.

"It‘s purpose is to invoking the meaning-rich earnest nobility of struggle through adversity in war. This is the same promise sorry mission statement sorry lie offered by war makers to mostly young men drifting in the pallid meaning void of emotion-as-commodity modernity."

WW1 being used as glorification of warfare is certainly a new one on me.

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I thought this was terrific too. It didn't quite punch me in the heart and knee me in the balls as much as I wanted it to (apart from 

Spoiler

when he handed the jewellery over to Blake's brother).

But it was compelling from beginning to end.

 

Re Oscar. Was it the bit where 

Spoiler

Schofield's friend died in a bloody heap in his arms; climbing over putrified bodies in the water; feeding a starving baby; being ordered around by jingoistic military buffoons or suffering PTSD

that he thought glorified war.

 

What a knob.

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Listening to more positive reviews made me think how much of it being WWI affects peoples experience with it, gives it more weight and meaning that is otherwise completely lacking in the characterisation. 

 

Imagine if you took the exact same film, but applied to a fictional future war. It wouldn’t be anywhere near as well received, which is obvious right i know. But i think there’s too much of a difference. The film heavily relies on history to compensate for its laziness. Saving Private Ryan’s opening would still be effective if the real D Day wasn’t so infamous. 
 

There are those who think every war film is inherently pro war by nature i guess of depicting it without exploring the root cause.

 

I watched the recent Spielberg documentary a few weeks ago which i really liked, but when talking about Schindlers List it still seems like Spielberg is of the mindset evil is inevitable and also that America is a democracy therefore pretty sweet. I think that mindset is shared by too many. 
 

Also in a review they said, and i don’t know if it’s true, it doesn’t sound like it is, that the longest take in the film is only 3 and a half minutes. They also were confused by some of the online response saying it is like a rollercoaster ride, which i definitely felt. And like a videogame, that too as well. Where you just follow the protagonist and like in a videogame the world revolves around you. It’s convenient when you fall down some waterfalls but land exactly where you want to be, coincidentally at exactly the most poignant moment that is precisely what the film needs at this point to manipulate you into feeling something. It just undercuts itself by presenting events in real time but then being contrived how it plays out. 

 

The film was never gonna be the two lads setting of with their message and then getting lost then being blown up by a mine was it. Saving Private Ryan has convenient pieces of luck (they find Ryan), but can at least establish time occuring inbetween and just pace it out more. It’s not like; set off > some dangerous moments > walking across a field > oh there he is. It’s rare that a trailer can literally condense an entire film but with 1917 it does. There’s little else there. 

 

Basically the one shot does not favour films. I think it’s best used in certain sequences where you don’t expect it, Children of Men being the best example of maybe any film. 

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22 minutes ago, Fusty Gusset said:

Apols if late - there's a screener out there. That's tonight sorted. :omg:

People still watch screeners? It's a disservice to watch a film at 352p.

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