Universal Pictures has released an extended featurette for Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes’ World War I epic, 1917. Clocking in at just over 11 minutes, the in-depth video takes audience members inside the origin of Mendes’ latest feature, and gives us a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield, where all the heartbreak, heroism, and action had taken place.
“After finishing the last Bond movie, I wanted to try and do something that I’d never done before,” Mendes explains at the start of the video. “I kept reading scripts and there was nothing I wanted to do. Eventually, my agent, and Pippa [Harris], said why don’t you write your own script?”
As the featurette continues, Mendes reveals the inspiration for his latest film by saying “The idea for the movie came from when I was a very small kid. My grandfather fought in the first World War. His name is Alfred Hubert Mendes. He went to war in 1917 and was a messenger on the front-lines, and he was given the job of carrying a message from post-to-post.”
“The movie’s based around the journey of two men, and I wanted the audience to have a relatively new experience with those men. I wanted them to feel as if they didn’t know them. It’s a real luxury to make a movie of this scale with two actors who are, relatively speaking, new to the game,” says Mendes about creating a film that features a uinque presentation and relatively new talent as well.
At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (CAPTAIN FANTASTIC’s George MacKay) and Blake (GAME OF THRONES’ Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers—Blake’s own brother among them.
1917 is directed by Sam Mendes, who wrote the screenplay with Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Showtime’s PENNY DREADFUL). The film is produced by Mendes and Pippa Harris (co-executive producer, Revolutionary Road; executive producer, AWAY WE GO) for their Neal Street Productions, Jayne-Ann Tenggren (co-producer, THE RHYTHM SECTION; associate producer, SPECTRE), Callum McDougall (executive producer, Mary Poppins Returns, Skyfall) and Brian Oliver (executive producer, ROCKETMAN; BLACK SWAN).
While many war films throughout history tend to cover a lot of ground by following different groups of soldiers while also bouncing from the battlefield to across enemy lines, 1917 remains focused on its messenger duo throughout its duration.
“From the very beginning, I felt this movie should be told in real-time,” Mendes explains about his approach to filming the journey. “Every step, every breath of these men felt integral, and there is no better way to tell this story than with one continuous shot.”
As you’re likely to imagine, the result of capturing the film in one continuous shot amounts to 1917 being a truly immersive experience. As the camera continues to follow the film’s central characters without pause, viewers can’t help but feel the exhaustion of their efforts, the impact nearby explosions, and the peril that comes with invading enemy territory.
If you’re looking to hear more about 1917, feel free to check out Matt Rooney’s review down below:
Meanwhile, if your mission is to experience the film free of spoilers, 1917 is set for a December 25 launch in cinemas.