1917 Review

April 6th 1917. Stuck in the doom and gloom of the western front, two men are assigned to race against time and save 1,600 soldiers from certain death. With a captivating plot and a budget of £80 million, Sam Mendes has created an Oscar-winning production, and just 3 months on from its release back in December, it has already raked in £270 million.

From the off, the film is all enticing, relentlessly following these two unfortunate souls in their mission, through eerily silent trenches and towns, against the clock. The film kicks off in a field just behind the allied trenches, where we are introduced to Blake and Schofield, both lance corporals. Not too long after, they are given a perilous mission. They are to carry a message through No Man’s Land to a battalion of the Devonshires, countermanding an attack planned for the next day.

The Germans have just fallen back, and, in the eyes of the British High Command, it is a turning point in the war, all that is needed now is an offensive to break the stalemate- but aerial reconnaissance has revealed that their ‘retreat’ is a trap. It has now fallen solely on the hands of Blake and Schofield to save the Devonshires, with Blake’s brother among them.

With the plot established and their mission objective painstakingly clear, the desperate duo set off eastwards into No Man’s Land. After they have bypassed the deserted German defences (along with many rotting corpses), it appears that their luck is finally on the turn. Grass. Trees. Plants. Finally, they have reached the relatively safe French countryside. 

However, the worst has only just begun. Their battle to reach the Devonshires takes many more thrilling, and often saddening, twists. This, in addition to the outstanding cinematography, which moves from set to set without interruption, make it much more eventful than we’re used to in films set in the static trenches of the First World War, and, ultimately, a must-watch film.

By Sebastian Kamstrup