1917 is by every technical measurement a masterpiece of a film that checks all boxes from editing, directing, acting, sound design and cinematography. And though it still is a great film, its biggest problem comes from its own pacing.
1917 revolves around two soldiers during World War I who receive seemingly impossible orders. The duo must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades — including Blake’s own brother.
To go into the technicality of this film, the entire two hours is shot as a one-scene picture. There is only one cut and that’s only to represent a passage of time. Even with this, the film holds beautiful shots, the best acting of the decade and sound design that is greatly utilized. Unless you’re looking for a cut between parts, the entire show conveys a continuous narrative with no breaks and is extremely good at having this feeling present for the audience. For the most part.
I personally enjoyed this film a lot, however, one must admit that pacing was this film’s enemy from the beginning. Scenes that are shot, cut and combined aren’t solely to give different angles from a camera’s perspective, it tends to keep the pace the narrative is trying to tell. And when characters are just walking through fields or driving on a road with no conflict, the continuous shot stops the conflict so that mundane activities can happen. The problem is apparent when you’re in the midst of a battlefield filled with corpses and dismembered body parts then move to a field talking about the type of trees that were cut down. I acknowledge the fact that this was intentional so the audience has time to breathe, but when the goal of the narrative is that there can’t be any time wasted to achieve the goal, those very slow shots counter that goal, no matter how intentional.
The film is fantastic and should be seen for the technical merits that leave an audience to marvel at the end product. But the fact that the narrative takes such slow stops to a fast-paced narrative stops it from being a masterpiece in all aspects.