If you’re thinking this is just another war movie coming out, that’s not entirely true. Yes, the new movie coming out, 1917, is a movie based on World War I, it is different than any other war movie we’ve seen in awhile. Writer and director, Sam Mendes, made sure of that. He filmed this movie in a format that is supposed to be view as one continuous shot. This movie uses the trick to tell its story in, quite literally, one continuously long shot. While that’s virtually impossible to actually achieve, they make us believe it to be so by following these actors as if we were really there. They achieve this by having the camera actually following whatever these actors are doing in long continuous shots, everyday. Mendes teamed up with cinematographer Roger Deakins and more to make the film seem like it’s unfolding in one very long take. It’s like following a real life video game.
A quote from Mendes regarding the film, “I felt this movie should be told in real time,” Mendes says in the featurette. “Every step of the journey, breathing every breath with these men felt integral and there is no better way to tell this story than with one continuous shot.” This way of thinking and shooting is what makes a war story so much more exciting and readily available for a wide range of audience members. Now that we know how the story is filmed, it’s good to know what it is that we are actually watching. The film follows two British foot soldiers that are selected for a last-minute, solo mission. They need to make a day’s long trek across no man’s land to warn 1,600 fellow soldiers about a pending German trap that will wipe out everyone by dawn. Mendes was inspired by his grandfather’s old war stories, and this race against time couldn’t have been portrayed in any other way other than one long shot. It allows the audience to see what the soldiers see, feel, and hear so they understand the gravity of the situation at hand.
The interesting thing that is different about this film as well; it’s filmed completely outside. The movie is taking place in different terrains everyday, and you will never see the same surroundings twice. Being that it is filmed completely on the exterior, the cast and crew is completely dependent on the weather and outside forces. If the shot from the day before was cloudy, they’d have to wait the next day to shoot until it was cloudy again in order to remain true to the continuously long shot illusion.
Therefore, Mendes and crew pulled off an impressive and highly technical feat with this new film, 1917. It is all the more exciting because of the nature of this film. It is being released on December 25, 2019.