11 votes

1917 (2019) — Spoiler-free discussion thread

I watched it last week. Fantastic movie. I don't watch many war movies (in fact this is one of my first ones), but I really, really liked it. I didn't even notice the two hours go by.

The one-shot effect is really well done, and I enjoyed trying to spot the transitions.

It's not an exceptional movie or anything like that, but it's one of the rare times I just went into the theater and came out exceedingly satisfied.

9 comments

  1. [3]
    SuperGracchiBros
    Link
    Just got back from seeing it. I agree with your judgement as a high quality but largely unexceptional movie. Besides the very long shots with well-hidden cuts, which is still impressive, I felt...

    Just got back from seeing it. I agree with your judgement as a high quality but largely unexceptional movie. Besides the very long shots with well-hidden cuts, which is still impressive, I felt that 1917 didn't really break any new ground.

    One issue I had, that was fairly minor, was the depiction of the Germans. I think there was a missed opportunity to have a slightly less unsympathetic portrayal of the rank-and-file German soldiers, but given the cultural legacy of WWII I understand why they didn't.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      UniquelyGeneric
      Link Parent
      Maybe it's because I was looking for them, but each "cut" took me out of the movie. I agree that the actual film cut was difficult to see, but the transition point was obvious nearly every time....

      well-hidden cuts

      Maybe it's because I was looking for them, but each "cut" took me out of the movie. I agree that the actual film cut was difficult to see, but the transition point was obvious nearly every time. It didn't help that they also CGI'd the main character during these transitions which made it feel slightly more contrived. I think if they weren't trying to hide the cuts, and instead stuck to traditional mechanisms (like an object passing in front of the camera...which they still did at times), I wouldn't have been so perturbed by them (or maybe it's just me).

      My other issue with the film was that there were some scenes that to me were illogical, and didn't use common sense. Without giving much away, the main character seems to have thought with his heart and not his head in ways I think would be untenable while fighting for your survival.

      That being said, the cinematography was still great, and there were some iconic scenes that I liked (particularly with the flares). It won't go down as the best war movie, and it seemed to try a little hard to be one, but as far as WWI movies go, it was a thrilling experience that helps to shine light on a war overshadowed by WWII movies.

      1 vote
      1. Adys
        Link Parent
        That sounds like selection bias. When it's non-obvious you're less likely to see it.

        the transition point was obvious nearly every time

        That sounds like selection bias. When it's non-obvious you're less likely to see it.

        3 votes
  2. Gyrfalcon
    Link
    Okay so I really liked this movie and was almost in tears leaving the theatre. That said, I have been on a WWI kick for the last year and a half, watching The Great War on youtube, reading books...

    Okay so I really liked this movie and was almost in tears leaving the theatre. That said, I have been on a WWI kick for the last year and a half, watching The Great War on youtube, reading books about WWI (currently a biography of John Monash, commander of Australian forces in WWI at Gallipoli and on the Western Front), and listening to the relevant Sabaton album.

    If you enjoyed this film, I would highly recommend watching They Shall Not Grow Old. It's a film, directed by Peter Jackson, composed primarily of old WWI footage that was cleaned up, colorized, and with sound added. Most of the sound track is WWI stories as voice over relevant to the original footage being shown, though some is just the sound for the scene, where they went as far as hiring voice actors from the same region of the UK as the soldiers in the footage to get the accents right. Not as emotionally gripping as 1917, but certainly good and provides a broader picture of the war.

    I agree with some of the other comments that time moved weirdly, but that's just a requirement of fitting many hours of events into a 2 hour film, and because a lot of the stuff they left out being not that interesting.

    Time related spoilers

    The most jarring for me was when they were moving through the trenches actually. Those trench systems could be miles from front to back as the crow files, and further than that on foot by that late in the war. That they went from well behind the lines to the front line in 10 minutes or so in the British trenches, and then through the booby trapped dugouts and artillery areas in not much longer on the German side was a little surprising, but again I totally understand why they had to do it that way, since at the beginning they estimated it as an 8 or 9 hour mission without any delays.

    There were a couple of other things I was wondering if people could weigh in on, historical accuracy wise. These are a bit spoilery so I will hide them.

    History related spoilers

    When they are moving through the German trenches, they looked similar to video I have seen of modern soldiers or SWAT teams, rifle up and popping corners in a coordinated fashion. Does anyone know if this was an accurate style of moving through the trenches at the time? I certainly haven't seen anything about soldiers being trained to fight that way, since my understanding is that it became common after body armor became common, though I could be wrong. I suppose it's also possible that they learned to move that way as experienced trench combatants.

    Another question I had was on their volume of equipment. They had a few bags, but judging from the size and the way they moved I got the sense they were not terribly heavy. I know in early WWI, soldiers were given very heavy packs, sometimes in excess of 80 lbs, and to the point that soldiers who fell in the mud would drown. My guess is that either this changed later in the war, or that Blake and Schofield were equipped more lightly like trench raiders for their special mission. Either way, I would be interested in knowing more about the accuracy of their equipment.

    Music related spoiler

    I felt that the scene with the lone singing soldier was incredible, as a summary of the events until that point, and as a way of making peace with the death of Blake. Unfortunately, that version of the song, an old folk standard known as Wayfaring Stranger or Poor Wayfaring Stranger, is not available anywhere that I can find, so I have had to settle for adding a different but still good cover of it to my playlists.

    3 votes
  3. [5]
    daturkel
    Link
    I'm slightly curious about the choice to make this thread spoiler free (are there that many people who haven't seen it that want to read a discussion?), but nonetheless: I enjoyed it. The...

    I'm slightly curious about the choice to make this thread spoiler free (are there that many people who haven't seen it that want to read a discussion?), but nonetheless:

    I enjoyed it. The one-premise is interesting to me because the movie takes place over a decently diverse set of locations, so the single shot establishes continuity of time more than anything. As the heroes traverse dangerous and gruelling situations, I found myself thinking "wow that seemed awful, but it only took them ten or so minutes." As epic as the scenarios in the film are, the idea that the film's events took (basically) as long as it takes to watch them actually somehow makes them smaller.

    Roger Deakins, who was the cinematographer, is extremely talented and I can imagine how this premise was exciting and challenging to him, but I did feel that it brought about limitations that didn't necessarily serve the end result well. In particular, there are numerous scenes of dialogue between people facing each other and, instead of the shot reverse shot that we'd normally expect in dialogue, the camera tended to slowly pan around the subjects.

    It's worth watching the behind the scenes YouTube video on how they achieved the effect. There are some really clever tricks that went into it.

    2 votes
    1. Adys
      Link Parent
      What I meant was that spoilers should be marked. I think it's fair to have discussion threads lead to people wanting to see the movie.

      I'm slightly curious about the choice to make this thread spoiler free (are there that many people who haven't seen it that want to read a discussion?), but nonetheless:

      What I meant was that spoilers should be marked. I think it's fair to have discussion threads lead to people wanting to see the movie.

      1 vote
    2. [3]
      Adys
      Link Parent
      So yeah, that was insanely jarring. And I actually think the "jarring" added to the experience; it certainly made it unique as far as movies I've watched. There is a single time cut in the middle...

      The one-premise is interesting to me because the movie takes place over a decently diverse set of locations, so the single shot establishes continuity of time more than anything. As the heroes traverse dangerous and gruelling situations, I found myself thinking "wow that seemed awful, but it only took them ten or so minutes." As epic as the scenarios in the film are, the idea that the film's events took (basically) as long as it takes to watch them actually somehow makes them smaller.

      So yeah, that was insanely jarring. And I actually think the "jarring" added to the experience; it certainly made it unique as far as movies I've watched.

      There is a single time cut in the middle of the movie but, beyond that, there's the glaring questions of how much time has actually passed, and how much distance has actually been traveled.

      This is supposed to be real time but it certainly doesn't feel real time. There is a scene where the protagonist enters a caravan, only to get out 5-10 minutes later, and the amount of time and distance that has passed at this point is very unclear. It felt like potentially much, much longer had passed and a lot of distance had been traveled. Same with the "river scene".

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        timo
        Link Parent
        It seems there is a lot of time dilation going on. The river/caravan scenes, but especially the Spoiler scene when the main characters' friend dies. He sits there, mourning his friend's passing....

        It seems there is a lot of time dilation going on. The river/caravan scenes, but especially the

        Spoiler scene when the main characters' friend dies. He sits there, mourning his friend's passing. The scene is long for a scene, but time wise feels much longer. Seemingly sudden, a whole squad of soldiers appears next to him. It feels like there could be hours between his death and the soldiers appearing.

        The movie feels like a dream, told through the eyes of the protagonist. Which makes sense when you consider what he has been through during the war and start of the movie, such as his (head) injury.

        2 votes
        1. Adys
          Link Parent
          Exactly! That's such an accurate description. Re your spoiler I remember the scene of him going "through" the building, it felt like the building he entered wasn't the same as the one he exited...

          The movie feels like a dream, told through the eyes of the protagonist.

          Exactly! That's such an accurate description.

          Re your spoiler I remember the scene of him going "through" the building, it felt like the building he entered wasn't the same as the one he exited exactly because of that.
          1 vote