“That was supposed to be a good movie, wasn’t it?” Would be the extent of the review that our friend F. would be willing to give 1917. And sadly I’d have to agree. The film felt like a first person shooter video game gimmick throughout. And Cinematographer (normally) extraordinaire Roger Deakins seemed out of his element in the plan séquence style mastered by Emmanuel Lubezki in Birdman. While watching 1917 I could almost hear the creaking of the technocrane extending in some of the shots. But worse, there was no depth to the protagonist.
The film was without the humanity of Max Ophüls’ camera in Le Plaisir, without the character of Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, without the grace of Russian Ark and without the visceral energy of Dunkirk or Saving Private Ryan —or even the raw violence of Hardcore Henry. It was sort of like watching a 360º movie and constantly feeling like the action is happening 180º away from you. And apparently, if I am to take the word of D and F, the Peter Jackson World War I film, They Shall Not Grow Old, inspired the art direction for 1917.
Now, if nothing else, you have a list of films to watch other than this one.