The True History Behind the “1917” Movie
by Meilan Solly/Smithsonian Magazine
The new World War I drama from director Sam Mendes, 1917, unfolds in real-time, tracking a pair of British soldiers as they cross the Western Front on a desperate rescue mission. Seemingly filmed in one continuous take, the 117-minute epic has garnered accolades for its cinematography and innovative approach to a potentially formulaic genre.
Although the movie’s plot is evocative of Saving Private Ryan—both follow soldiers sent on “long journeys through perilous, death-strewn landscapes,” writes Todd McCarthy for the Hollywood Reporter—its tone is closer to Dunkirk, which also relied on a non-linear narrative structure to build a sense of urgency.
“[The film] bears witness to the staggering destruction wrought by the war, and yet it is a fundamentally human story about two young and inexperienced soldiers racing against the clock,” Mendes tells Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican. “So it adheres more to the form of a thriller than a conventional war movie.”
Plot-wise, 1917 follows two fictional British lance corporals tasked with stopping a battalion of some 1,600 men from walking into a German ambush…..Read More