April 8, 2020
We stream watched an excellent movie last night. 1917, directed by Sam Mendes, won a number of Oscars including Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins…and deservedly so.
It is rather a simple tale of two soldiers who must cross enemy territory in order to prevent an attack which would result in a massacre of allied forces. But it isn’t just the riveting story line that makes this film so immensely watchable. The manner in which the film was shot is just as important if not more so. Envisioned by Mendes and executed by Deakins, 1917 tells its narrative as a single continuous shot. Opening on the two soldiers, Blake and Schofield, the camera stays on them relentlessly as it follows them through the WWI hell they traverse in order to deliver their life-saving message.
By using this method, Mendes ratchets up the tension and sense of urgency by giving the audience an immersive experience. We get the sense of walking through no man’s land with them, seeing only what they can see, not knowing what dangers lie around the corner or over the hillside until they cross that threshold. Their only response to the horrors they view and the challenges they meet is to keep forging ahead toward their ultimate goal.
It’s a great reminder as we continue to wage our current battle against this invisible viral enemy we are facing. Watching the death toll that keeps mounting; hearing of the heart-wrenching struggles of those afflicted and their families; feeling the increasing boredom of isolation; knowing the growing fatigue and frustration of the healthcare workers… it is all real and is impacting each of us as we navigate through this time. But there is only one response we can have. To keep moving forward, looking to the future and the victory that will await us there.
“One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b-14 (Amplified Bible)
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