Winner of 3 Academy Awards and the recipient of numerous other awards and accolades, Sam Mendes thrilling First World War epic 1917 is a sight to behold. Presenting itself as a faux one continuous take film, Mendes crafts a heart-pounding tale that is visually stunning. Fortunately, audiences now have the chance to pour over every little detail of the film as it arrives on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
The film follows two British soldiers, Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), who are assigned a special mission by General Erinmore (Colin Firth). The two men only have a few hours to relay a message to a British battalion, consisting of 1,600 men led by Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch), that will stop them from walking into a German trap. The fact that Blake’s brother (Richard Madden) is part of the colonel’s platoon only adds to the sense of urgency.
One of the things that makes 1917 such a jaw-dropping film is the various terrains that the two men must navigate. The film takes audiences on a harrowing journey from crowded British trenches to decaying corpses scattered across “no man’s land” to the ruins of once thriving villages and beyond. The taut and chilling imagery in 1917 grabs viewers by the throat and releases them just long enough to gasp for air.
Part of the film’s appeal is Roger Deakins blisteringly rich cinematography which moves from grimy to operatic to ethereal at different points. In the Blu-ray feature “Allied Forces: Making 1917”, Deakins explains just how difficult it was to get many of the film’s iconic shots. Not only did the actors have to track their steps even before the sets were built, but Deakins and crew had to figure out how to keep the camera moving while navigating difficult terrain.
This desire to go above and beyond to create an authentic experience is conveyed in “The Weight of the World: Sam Mendes.” In the feature Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who co-wrote the screenplay, dive into the origins of the film and why it was personal for the director. A stunning experience from beginning to end, 1917 is a film that deserves a spot in your Blu-ray collection.
Bonus Features: The Weight of the World: Sam Mendes, Allied Forces: Making 1917, The Score of 1917, In the Trenches, Recreating History, Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Sam Mendes, Feature Commentary with Director of Photography Roger Deakins.