1917 (2019 film) Review


I just got done watching 1917 and thought I would share my review with our readers. The new film is Directed by Sam Mendes and is set during WW1 obviously. The plot is basic and I won’t go into it much because there is a a huge surprise about half way through.

Two British soldiers are sent by their commanding general to cross no man’s land to get an order to a prick of a Colonel who is dead set to make an attack on a position that he thinks is lightly held by retreating German troops. In reality this is a ruse by the Hun to lure them into a well prepared line as a trap. Of course the two set off and all manner of things of varying levels of awful happen.

Cinematography is excellent with some long takes that are excellent. The sound track does a good job at building tension and isn’t over done. Special effects are realistic but you can still see the hint of CGI if you look close enough. Nature of modern film making though and I doubt we will ever see a return to the good old days.

The movie does well to recreate the battlefield of WW1 but its still a little too sterile looking in my opinion. I think the director didn’t think the reality of what it looked like during the war would go over too well for modern audiences. The mud, dead bodies, the rot the water is there but no where as much as pictures and first hand accounts describe. There are some nice attention to detail in places though.

The differences in the trenches between the British and the Germans shown well. Above you can see the British trench. Below the main characters clear a German trench.

The quality of the German trenches by all accounts were much better made and it shows in the film.

Above is a freshly dug British position where the troops are about to go out into an attack.

One of the main characters starts to cross a blown bridge at a demolished town.

Above a British soldier crawls across bodies in a river.

The movies is not a a 2 hour long firefight but it is nonstop tension and danger. Not a very big variety of guns in it. The Enfield rifle of course, a Lewis gun scene in the distance in one scene, a Luger and some holstered Webleys are about it.

It’s a solid film. I give it a hard recommend.


  1. The Germans were on the defence for most of the war so put huge efforts into the strength and habitability of their lines. The British attitude was “We’re attacking, so no point in working much on the trenches because we won’t be here long”. So millions of allied troops, including my Grandpa, suffered years of unnecessary misery in hastily prepared and unmaintained earthworks.

    One grinding technical point was right at the start where the two soldiers call the SNCO “Sarge”. This is (I believe) an Americanism….Commonwealth troops then and now refer to Sergeants as “Sarn’t”. I was a Sergeant in the Australian Army, and I’ve spoken to all my veteran mates, and we all agree the movie should be longer to show the scene where the SNCO gives them a bollocking for calling him “Sarge”. 🙂

    Apropos of nothing much…I fulfilled a lifelong ambition last year. Went to France and stood on the Battalion start line of the battlefield where my Pop and his mates went into action and he won his MM IN 1918. Brought more than a few tears to my eyes. He was a better man than I’ll ever be.

  2. Every historical account I’ve read about the trenches put it as “German best, British next, French… Worst.”.

    The Germans settled in for the long haul, once they realized the nature of things. The Brits kinda-sorta got it, but the French actively refused to do anything about making their trenches at all habitable, because they figured that if they did that, the troops would never get out of them.

    The fact that the only real mutiny on the Western Front happened to the French Army probably has some slight connection, there.

  3. Thanks, I’d been leery of it because I thought it might be too ‘hollywood’.

    I don’t know how to embed this link, but if you google ‘The monstrous anger of the guns’, you’ll find a great (very readable) thesis about WW1 British artillery in WW1. Full of interesting flavour about what conditions were like.


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