It was to everyone’s surprise when ‘American Beauty’ director Sam Mendes bagged two Golden Globes, outshining movies like ‘The Irishman‘ and ‘Joker‘, this year. And rightly so. Here are three reasons to watch ‘1917’, a war epic, in theatres this weekend.
The biggest reason to watch this war epic, which shook Hollywood, is its one-shot cinematography. Shooting all over Britain and in Shepperton Studios near London, the makers had to make sure the action looked like it happened in one two-hour take — a technical nightmare that demanded that everything from weather right down to continuity had to be perfect. This cinematic POV of the two soldiers goes beyond the usual editing tricks and narrative jumps that go into conventional filmmaking.
‘’It was clearly a technical challenge,’’ Mendes said before his unexpected triumph. “I wanted the audience to connect emotionally with the central characters and never leave their side.” In a radical filmmaking experiment, Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins shot footage that glides from trenches to crater-filled battlefields and through a devastated French town. But even compared to those enormous minutely-planned blockbuster productions, the making of ‘1917’ was a Herculean feat for Mendes and cinematographer Deakin, who won an Oscar for ‘Blade Runner 2049’ two years ago.
Sam Mendes’ most personal film yet
The story for the film, which follows two British soldiers who must cross no-man’s land to deliver a vital message to abort a planned attack on German lines, comes directly from Mendes’ own family history. His grandfather, the Trinidad-born writer Alfred Mendes, was given a similar almost suicidal mission when he served as a rifleman in Flanders, where he won a Military Medal. Mendes’ idea for the film came from “listening to my grandfather (as a child) tell stories of his experiences.
A big screen visual retreat
Acclaimed theatre director, Mendes still loves the pull of the live. His movies work best on the big screen rather than streamed. “We had to understand how long every set needed to be. So if you wrote, ‘They walked down a hillside through an orchard to a farmhouse,’ you had to walk that journey and design the orchard just for the length of the conversation, and design the distance between the orchard and the farmhouse, the farmhouse and the barn, the barn and the road, the road and the canal. Everything had to be interlinked.”
Mendes said he wanted to make his two messengers, played by George MacKay and Dean Charles Chapman (Tommen Baratheon in ‘Game of Thrones’), “to feel like two men among two million. They’re not heroes, they’re just men. “And for the audience, I wanted them to know that maybe they won’t survive. Maybe both will be killed.”
“I think it’s up to filmmakers to make films that need to be seen on the big screen, and make an audience feel like if they don’t see it on a big screen, they are going to miss out.”
This article was published via AFP Relaxnews.