The 1917 movie, which director Sam Mendes wrote inspired by his grandfather’s stories about the First World War, was not actually shot in one frame, although it seems to be so, writes Vox. “If you look closely, you notice small discontinuities. But the film successfully manages to approximate this technique, one that makes us feel as if we are experiencing ‘real-time’ events, ”comments Vox.com
This technique was most recently used in Birdman, the Academy Award winner for best film of 2014. But in the case of the 1917 movie, the single-frame technique is used to tell the story of two young British soldiers (George MacKay and Dean). Charles Chapman) to whom the general (Colin Firth) is entrusted with sending a message from their trenches, over the area between the lines to Colonel MacKenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch), who risks without his knowledge to lead his troops in a trap.
The task is a neighbor to the impossible, but the two soldiers follow her with courage, encountering all kinds of dangers along with several other soldiers (played by Richard Madden, Mark Strong, and Andrew Scott). For the first time, the experienced Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty, Road to Perdition) also signs the script, and below are excerpts from an interview that justifies his decision, but also the challenges of such a film.
Here’s what Sam Mendes says about the technique used:
“I wanted to tell this two-hour story in ‘real-time’. This is how I felt it was the most natural way to impregnate those people in the eyes of the public. In a film that works as a counter-chiller thriller, I wanted the audience to feel every second they pass and take it with them while being aware of geography, distance, and physical exertion. The feeling that you have to live the story with the characters is heightened by the avoidance of editing cuts. I was not used to telling a story that lasts between two and a half hours without breaks.
On the other hand, the landscape of the film was constantly moving – atmosphere, lights, conditions – and the relationship between the film camera and actors is constantly changing. In the theater, the relationship between the spectator and those he sees is much more real, while here he is constantly changing. So, in other ways, it was the exact opposite of the theater experience, is a very cinematic one. The film is a strange mix between the two. “