Sunday, January 19, 2020

World War I, Remembered

A scene from the first half: 1917
I don't often go to the theatre to see movies anymore. Considering the prices these days, there isn't much playing that's worth the expense of a trip to the multiplex. But based on word-of-mouth and reviews I've read, I decided to make the investment for the World War I story, 1917. It was time and money well spent.

The film is visually captivating from the start. The viewer follows two soldiers throughout their dangerous mission of carrying an urgent message to another commander, across enemy territory, to halt a planned offense. The advancing 1,600 troops would unknowingly charge into a trap; among them is one of the messenger's brother.

The movie is filmed brilliantly as two takes; there are no scenes flashing to other parts of the plot. The two soldiers are the plot, and as the camera follows their perilous journey in one long motion, the suspense builds almost unbearably. About halfway through the film, there is a pivotal moment that opens into the second take. From that point on, viewers travel the race against time to its dramatic conclusion in another unbroken length of film.

War movies are not for everyone. If they are of good quality, I like to watch them. You can observe the very best attributes and the very worst deficiencies of humanity in a well-made war film. In war, the deepest evil and the greatest good in people is on full display. 1917 runs the gamut and leaves the viewer feeling drained and thoughtful. Watching courage and dedication persevere in such horrific circumstances has the power to remind us all what heights of virtue might lie within.