|Hell on Earth (but well done Hell).|
Two word review: Excellent film. It’s an intensely personal/soldier’s journey type of story, and also manages to convey the larger tragedy of the Great War. Outstanding costumes and set pieces, and deserving of its Academy Award for Best Cinematography. 1917 captures the enormous complexity/rat maze of the trenches in the latter stages of the war. It effectively juxtaposes the beautiful and relatively undisturbed green countryside of France existing behind the lines with the grotesque nightmare of no man’s land—massive shell holes collecting unimaginably polluted yellow water, ringed with corpses in various stages of decay, skulls and upthrust hands and filth. A little bit of Mordor.
Speaking of JRRT, a scene in which a young soldier (played by George MacKay) stumbles out of a corpse strewn river, on the verge of breaking, but is revived by the sound of Elf-like singing in the nearby woods, seems to me a bit of an homage to the professor.
It’s an engaging journey wrapped up in under two hours and I think it makes a great companion piece with Peter Jackson’s colorized documentary They Shall Not Grow Old (2018).
War films and the great stories build up a reserve of perspective on current situations. COVID-19 is scary. I’m worried about two parents in their 70s, one with a host of chronic illnesses including COPD, and my daughter who is still working part-time in a 62+ retirement community and putting herself at an elevated level of risk.
But when you think about men going over the top at the sound of the shrill brass whistle, with nothing but a cloth uniform between them and a machine gun bullet or shrapnel, present events are put into perspective.