This movie is a winner. The attention to detail and the special effects are incredibly realistic. The majority of the superb acting is done by relatively unknown people which also adds to the realism.
As a WWI history buff, I kept looking for the usual mistakes, such as inaccurate uniforms and equipment, but I didn’t really pickup on anything. There were several scenes where wrist watches were partially exposed and for a brief moment they appeared to me to be more in the 1940’s circa, but then I collect old watches. They could have been circa 1917 too.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you: WWI saw the start of the wristwatch… ironically in part because of artillery. That’s right, artillery. This was the era of the coordinated artillery barrage. Combatants on both sides needed good timing and for that both hands had to be free. So, a pocket watch wouldn’t work very well. In those early years the wrist watch was really more of a pocket watch with a leather band. They were clunky and broke easily because they were not made to be shock resistant.
The movie depicts the Germans using the Albatross biplane with a cowl mounted, twin Spandau, machine gun. This plane were very popular with Germany’s better pilots, including Baron Manfred von Richthofen, (the Red Baron in his triplane) he only flew Fokker DR.1 tri-plane towards the end of the war. The sleek bullet shaped Albatross was a handful to fly, but very nimble and quick for an expert pilot. The Albatross shown crashing was a D.V variant with a Mercedes engine. This is period correct and places the time of the scene as 1917, but no earlier.
Warning, some scenes depict really extreme gore, but this was the reality of WWI. Consider the Battle of the Somme where over 850,000 soldiers died. As artillery shells rained down and exploded they would often bury men alive or blast them into bits with body parts flying in all directions.
Imagine the stench of thousands of bodies, German and Allies, rotting and only just yards away from your trench? And this gore is all concentrated in a muddy, lifeless area called no-mans land. This Hellish place is laced with barbed wire and pocketed by shell craters. The fog of poison gas still lingering in the low areas. Well, you really can’t imagine this can you? But, the movie makes a brave effort to convey this ghastly reality.
The suspense that comes from the cinematography, capturing minute to minute action, was done to near perfection; if nothing else, this part really deserves an Academy Award. You will have to see it to fully appreciate it, words just fall short.
1917 is hands down the best War movie since Saving Private Ryan. Great story, great acting, great action, but not overdone like we’ve seen in so many other war movies. So, go see it and don’t bother buying popcorn, you likely won’t be able to eat it.
PS Did you know they are serving beer and wine drinks in the theater now? They are at Cinemark anyway. A 16 oz. Sierra Nevada costs $6. You might need a drink before you see 1917 and probably another when you get out.