I liked the movie 1917 because the focus is on what look like ordinary young English lads tasked with an extraordinary mission at a crucial time in the history of the Great War. Lance Corporals Schofield and Blake must cross several miles of dangerous terrain to warn others not to attack a faux German retreat. If successful, they could save over 1,000 soldiers, including Blake's older brother.
1917 is a Homeric odyssey for our time. And the historical context is rich with meaning. The story begins on 6 April 1917--the day when the United States enters the war. Of course it will take some time before Americans arrive. Meanwhile, the Germans feign retreat, but it's a trap to draw British troops into the open.
The plot is simple and familiar. But the movie engages us in a realism that could only be enhanced by giving us uncomfortable cold wet muddy seats and a whiff of the overwhelming stench confronting the two messengers. As with any such terror plot, there is a race against time and the challenge of overcoming human, animal, and natural barriers while dodging enemy fire.
At times it seems our men are learning to adapt to the carnage, but we are artistically introduced to the notion that there can be a deep sense of compassion for the vulnerable. All is not lost even though a look above the trenches proclaims otherwise.
So, I'd see 1917 again, despite the negativity of some expert reviewers.
Besides, both my grandfathers survived the war in France along with some of my cousins. And, for what it's worth, the scenes make my visit along the Western Front all the more meaningful.
I wouldn't glorify war. But I do appreciate the capacity of ordinary men to recover from horrific experiences and return to civilian life as fathers and workers. But I can also appreciate the fact that many return with gaping mental wounds as deep as any crater often accompanied by missing limbs.
And of course, I won't forget the sacrifices of those who did not return.
They Shall Not Grow Old (a review)
The Western Front in Belgium