While World War II has gotten its fair share of cinematic epics, World War I is a conflict that has only recently started to attract more of the attention of big ticket filmmakers. Peter Jackson recently paid tribute to The Great War with his documentary feature They Shall Not Grow Old, and now we have former James Bond director Sam Mendes visiting the war in a more fictional context with 1917.
The first trailer for the film has now been released, and as you’ll see below, while the war may not be terribly familiar with audiences, the plot and styling of the film will intrigue audiences to see it:
Mendes’ latest film focuses on one particularly tense storyline, as 1917 shows two young soldiers (played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) on a mission against time. Tasked with delivering a message to prevent an attack that’d wipe out 1600 men, including one of their own brothers, this brave pair will have to risk it all to accomplish this great feat. Especially when that task will bring them into enemy territory.
On the surface, 1917 feels like a mashup of Saving Private Ryan and Dunkirk, as this new movie mixes the race against time element of the latter with the purpose of saving a family member from the former. But instead of merely showing the wide open countryside or sea-bound action that either of those films traded on, there’s a big difference that sets this film apart from the rest.
In 1917, we’ll get to see the intense trench warfare that World War I is famously known for. Not only that, but the claustrophobia will also extend to sequences that see the central pair of soldiers going underground, and dealing with the potential danger that a sudden cave-in presents at a moment’s notice.
Not only is there a very spectacle-driven component to this first look at 1917, there’s a suspenseful, character fueled element that keeps this film grounded in its mission of survival. Showing off co-stars Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch is probably the finishing touch this trailer needs, as it sets the scene for a saga of two young men making their way through a bloody skirmish, in hopes that they can prevent the ultimate tragedy.
It’s very obvious that 1917 is poised for a run as a prestige title, in hopes that the 2019-2020 awards season will pick it up as a contender. Seeing the reasons why Universal has done this is clear in this tensely edited trailer, and with the closing scene of one of our protagonists running, eyes closed, through an exploding battlefield; it’s pretty much sold us on this film’s promise of being one of the must-see films of the last cinematic season of 2019.