An incredible rendering of humanity through a WWI backdrop. I really loved this one. Listen to this current episode of my podcast for more of my thoughts on this impeccable film. Go see it and take someone.


Show transcript:

Speaker 1: (00:01)
Welcome to Riley on film. I’m your host, Damien Riley. You can find out more and subscribe for free now on with the show,

Speaker 2: (00:22)
please listen carefully today I saw a 1917 and what a film it is. I have to say, it looks kind of funny here on the screen of internet movie database because you have two years right next to each other in 1917 and 2019 I didn’t know that this film came out 2019 I figured it came out 2020 but apparently it came out right. Oh look at this. It came out the 10th of January, 2020 but they’re still listing it as a 2019 so I wonder what will happen there for Oscars. Definitely this thing is up for Oscars, especially the lead role, I believe his name is. Well, you know what, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I need to go down and check out what his name is, but I know he was in the horror film marrow bone. That’s what it was called. It had it all the brothers and sisters and it was kind of creepy, pretty good movie.

Speaker 2: (01:28)
I didn’t think it was that great, but he uh, he was in that and he was okay and he’s just got these eyes that you remember well he does a much better job in this. Uh, I could of been the script, could’ve been the story, but boy, he just stands out in this and I definitely think he’s going to be up for best actor. So let me look down here and make sure I got his name right. Just like I’m let you all know. It looks like George Mackay. I got a tiny picture in front of me. I just blew it up. Definitely. This is George Mackay and George Mackay’s man and a lot of stuff. He’s a face. Many of you will recognize from captain fantastic Peter pan pride, how I live now and others including marrow bone.

Speaker 2: (02:17)
This film is rated R. it definitely has some bloody scenes. Nothing too gory. But this is definitely a film that is not for everybody. I wouldn’t call it an out and out war film, but let’s just say it’s on the battlefield. Uh, people are killed. People kill all the rules of war. And we all know as we have heard that war is hell. Now, president Trump likes to pretend that if you’ve got enough money, you can buy enough war machines and nobody can topple you. Well, unfortunately for us, he may find that that’s not true in this film. We learned that war is hell and there’s no place it. But we also learned that there are small victories even in a hell like war. And we have George McKay taking us on that journey. This is an Epic drama. As I said, it is war based, but it is an Epic drama. It has an 8.7 out of 10. I call that a nine with 16,962 votes. And it only came out, I guess what’s that yesterday? I think today’s the 11th as I’m recording this. Yep. So it came out yesterday and there’s already 16,000 basically 17,000 votes.

Speaker 2: (03:37)
And uh, so it has a nine out of 10 and it’s pretty secure. Nine because it’s got 17,000 votes. Now this is something I haven’t seen in ages. I haven’t seen a film that was this beloved by people who watched it cause I’m giving you votes of people who are members of internet movie database and who voted for this film. I don’t really waste my time too much on the other services like rotten tomatoes. But Metta score, I’ll tell you, gave it a 79 which is a really good score, not as good as a nine, but Metta score is usually a little bit lower than internet movie database voters.

Speaker 2: (04:20)
It is described as two young British soldiers during the first world war. They are given an impossible mission to deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men and one of the soldiers brothers from walking straight into a deadly trap. It is written and directed by Sam Mendez. He shared the writing role with another person and I’ll say their name later when I see someone who has directed, I had written a movie. I have to give them a tip of the hat because that is amazing to imagine something, bring it all the way to fruition and get all those actors, all the music, everything together in the way that you envisioned it. Without anybody else writing, without anybody else directing just you. That is an element of a control I can’t even imagine. And when it’s a good movie like this, it’s again another tip of the hat. So Sam Mendez gets two tips to that. I’m a little embarrassed that I called him Sam Raimi after I saw the movie when I, I did a tweet and a couple of people called me on it. I was so embarrassed. But the movie put me in such a trance. That’s the space I was in. I wasn’t quite thinking straight, but it was a good trance and I have fixed it on social media.

Speaker 2: (05:41)
Sam Mendez is best known for Skyfall road to perdition, which is a very dark drama, which is the best kind of drama that I like. The attribute of darkness is always one that I look for in movies. Not just horror movies, but in any movie revolutionary road, which was a very different and dark kind of a relationship movie and American beauty and many more. I think American beauty had a lot of original concepts for its time back in 1999 but now having got the directors accolades out of the way, I will tell you that I think 1917 is far and above anything that Sam Mendez has done up to. Now. One thing about the movie, I was talking to my daughter about it cause we just went and saw it together. My 14 year old daughter, I was surprised she liked it so much because it’s kind of a a war drama.

Speaker 2: (06:39)
She’s more into the horror with me, but I was talking about the film with my daughter as we were driving home and I said, you know what? I think that whole film was filmed in one shot and I’ll have to check that out and see if it’s true. If anybody knows, please leave a comment. But Birdman with Michael Keaton was filmed that way, but this film is a journey. It’s a journey for the senses as well as a journey for the mind. You see George Mackay’s character traveling, traveling. There may be spoilers from here on out too, but as he travels, we all experience his travel. We are all travelers traveling at the speed of exactly 60 minutes per hour. That’s a quote from spider Robinson who wrote the Callahan Chronicles in case you didn’t know, but in this case we are catapulted back to 1917 and we travel through the war with George Mackay’s character leading us on.

Speaker 2: (07:45)
There are some things in this film that we may not choose to witness in our everyday life if we have a choice, but I have never witnessed the death of a close friend and we go through that. It takes us on a journey through war folks. There’s a scene where he’s trying to get out of the water and someone shooting at him, a sniper and the bullets are just chinking off where his hand is holding on and it’s just so stressful to watch it, but at the same time it’s exciting. I mean, adrenaline gets pumping.

Speaker 2: (08:20)
I want to cover a few of the cast members I’ve talked about. George McKay, just incredible actor. He just embodies the sentences as he sang them. It’s almost as if he’s writing the script as he says the things he says, and he has an unassuming demeanor, which for me allowed me to kind of see him as an every man, someone that I could get into his skin and experience what was happening in this film. I didn’t know very much about world war one going into this movie. I can say, I don’t know much more about it now except the fact that the French were our allies, a really touching scene with a wa French woman and a baby that she somehow acquired, uh, in the war and didn’t know who the parents were and she needs to feed the baby. Uh, it’s just, how can I describe it?

Speaker 2: (09:09)
If you’ve seen it, you know the scene. You know what I’m talking about. You know about the milk, you know about the dirty hands and it’s just so well done. I wasn’t a huge salmon Dez fan before this, but I think I’m going to be one of his biggest fans now. Colin Firth plays a high ranking soldier and he officer and he is in it for about less than five minutes I think, but it’s nice to see him. The one that I wanted to mention doesn’t really have a big role. Uh, his name is Andrew Scott and he plays Lieutenant Leslie and he has such a unique voice. I hope we see him in a lot of films. He studied at a very high level of university acting, so this is a guy who prepared for where he is now and I, we see him in more and more things, but his name is Andrew Scott. If you want to look him up, you’ll see who I’m talking. Right. He plays Lieutenant Leslie and he’s also in a black mirror episode, I believe. It’s the one where there’s a gay couple and they want to adopt, if you remember that one. I’m just doing it from memory. I don’t have the time to go look it up, but he’s in a lot of the things that I’ve seen recently. I really like the way he looks. I like the way that he talks and he’s an excellent actor. So watch Andrew Scott.

Speaker 2: (10:29)
There are many, many other actors, but really it only focuses on about three or four through the whole journey. And especially just one. George Mackay, he plays Lance corporal Schofield and he is traveling to warn of Italian to not attack because the Germans want them to attack and then they’re going after they’ve used up all their ammo or what? I don’t know the reason exactly, but it’s just something weird that they wouldn’t know. It’s like a trap. And so corporal Scofield is trying to go, uh, to warn them so that they want attack and then he will save thousand people. My favorite scene in this film is when Scofield is walking. He’s already walked so far and he’s already walked through these bunkers. Which way do you see these bunkers? Gosh, they’re so great. It makes you wonder how they dug them with just shovels. I mean that would take so long.

Speaker 2: (11:30)
And I’m sure they didn’t bring in Caterpillar’s and cranes and such, they couldn’t have done that. So it must’ve been done with shovels. But they have all these bunkers that he’s walking through. And then he gets through that and then he walks to the water and then he walks through a barn and then there’s a fire and then his friend gets shot. And it’s just, you’re on a journey with him. It’s like there’s two of them that start on the journey and you’re the third person and you’re not just watching it from 30,000 feet above on a map. You are among them. You, you are one of them. And that’s a sign of an amazing direction. Amazing filmmaking. The cinematography is also totally incredible. Well, part of the cinematography that’s so incredible is when he’s walking into this forest and he begins to hear a song and it sounds a lot like Scarborough fair.

Speaker 2: (12:17)
Somebody put on my Facebook what the name of the real song is and I, I don’t have access to it at this particular moment, but um, you know, I’m sure you can look it up if you’re interested, but it’s a beautiful song. And this young cadet, well I don’t know if he’s a cadet, I guess he’d be a private, probably he’s singing this song if he can imagine Scarborough fair being sung through the trees and the forest and you see all these young men soldiers with guns and everything just sitting silent, just watching him and listening to him and Scofield comes up and he’s just been through so much and he’s been wounded. So he just like collapses on a tree and is mesmerized and taken in by this song as was I. And then, you know, maybe that was the spot where I got confused and I wanted to call the director Sam Raimi cause it doesn’t sound Ramy and Sam Mendez.

Speaker 2: (13:09)
But as actually this scene sort of put me in a hypnotic trance. I think I got hypnotized. And if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. The song is amazing. The cinematography is amazing. And again, as I get toward the end of my review, I just wanted to tell you it, it’s not really a, it is about war, but it’s about a journey. And it’s about hanging in there through your journey, even through the horrors and the benefit of getting to the end of your journey and how some people really don’t give a shit when you’re at the end of your journey, but other people will look you right in the eye. And thank you. And that’s what I got out of it. I think it’s an amazing film. I haven’t seen a movie this good. I can’t think of what was this good.

Speaker 2: (13:54)
I really don’t. It’s been years since I can remember being this affected by a drama. I can’t compare it to horror movies cause horror is totally different. But as far as drama goes, this is definitely one of the best films I’ve seen in years and I’m really glad it was made. So st thank you to Sam Mendez and uh, I always appreciate your comments. I hope you’ll leave me some on Twitter or on my, my blog itself and the podcast. And I guess that’s it for now, but definitely if you haven’t seen 1917 or if you’ve seen it, uh, go see it again and I will see you next time.

By Damien Riley

Professor/Tutor/Dad/Husband/Son. My favorite horror movie is probably going to be a toss up between Tusk and Insidious. Atmospheric Horror is my favorite subgenre. I also post news articles on politics and the occasional blog post on things other than horror movies.

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