You can pick your heroes with tears in your eyes throughout the lush yet stark two hours of 1917, an amazing concept indeed considering this World War I movie most obviously centers around the two Lance Corporal British soldiers picked to carry out a most perilous mission.
They, the commanding general intones so seriously, must carry the message across the front to call off a two-battalion attack set for the next morning. The German’s fallback is a ruse. All 1,800 fellow solidier’s will most surely fall. Oh-so-young men Blake and Schofield stare back at this order with a true mix of fear, wonder and loyalty in their eyes.
Blake’s older brother is stationed on the other side of this task, his life on the line.
And so we watch them take off in the trenches, shouldering through men to and earning advice and admonition as they make their way to the break in the barbed wire.
Two men on which your hearts can latch, on their way to so many horrors of war.
The scenes, set that fateful day in April 1917 in Northern France, are both beautiful and horrible.
The land has been ravaged by the German’s retreat, pocked with death yet sturdy with natural fortifiers.
For this realism you can thank director and co-writer Sam Mendes (crafting the screenplay with Krysty Wilson-Cairns). Mendes obviously listened with his heart and mind to the stories of his soldier grandfather, Alfred Mendez, given a credit for sharing these tales during the ending roll. Two more heroes, here.
Actors Dean-Charles Chapman and George McKay shine as Blake and Schofield, buddies supporting each other to the end.
Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch add serious panache in their short stints as the seasoned men on either end of the arduous mission.
A big Saturday matinee crowd at a stadium theater in the Regal chain in Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA hung on every step of the dramatic journey.
So sad, war was then, unique in physical obstacles yet similar in human sorrows and horror to those that have followed.