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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Do or Die Dispatch

1917 (2019) on IMDb

Plot Overview

air mail planeApril 6, 1917. Northern France. Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) of the British 8th army Battalion is summoned by General Erin­more (Colin Firth,) and he's to bring with him a second of his choice. Not aware of any danger he simply selects his buddy Corp. Scho­field (George MacKay) to accompany him on what he assumes will be a milk run. Hah!

glassAerial reconnaissance has revealed the Germans are trying to sucker the distant Devons into a trap. The Boche have built up massive fortifi­cations in the woods where they retreated luring the Brits into a bloody ambush if they execute their planned attack tomorrow. The phone lines being cut, Blake is tasked to cross a hot zone and hand deliver orders to Colonel MacKenzie calling off his attack. He was chosen for his map reading skills. His brother being in the targeted battalion adds to his motivation. From there it's just a long, dangerous slog.


“1917” tracks nicely with, (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” The bulk of the movie is concerned with a British messenger or two snaking his way across a bleak no-man's land, slipping through cracks in the defense, slithering across obstacles, striking back at his opponents. Like Solomon's snake on a rock, it's a progress hard to track and with an uncertain outcome.

Added to the tension is a dogfight up in the air, like a soaring eagle hard to follow. The corporals don't know who's winning or the outcome.

“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” corresponds to a messenger being engulfed by the river, unable to orient him­self under­water or to choose his own direction. That com­pounds the uncer­tainty of ever delivering the message.

The money shot of uncertainties, of course, is “the way of a man with a maid.” The other three maneuverings were all mechanical in scope; this one involves nuance of emotion. Corp. Schofield takes shelter in a gutted room clandes­tinely occupied by a French­woman (Claire Duburcq) and an orphaned baby. She doesn't trust him at first until she realizes he's not a German. The German in another room is depicted as a drunk, and who knows what indignities she'd have suffered at his hands? Scho­field is a benefactor providing her and the kid with meat and milk. The point, of course, is he was still an unknown leaving her perplexed and disappointed when he takes off suddenly, not even waiting for dark when it was safe from the Germans. He had time constraints and a higher calling.

That helps us put into perspective other similar affairs and avoid being judgmental. A litmus test for a gentle­man caller, say, should not be whether he's left his girl perplexed and disappointed at his higher calling­—it's hard to figure those things out—but whether, say, he paid for dinner and the movie on their dates. For example in the movie “Going My Way” (1945) a musically talented Charles ‘Chuck’ O'Malley (Bing Crosby) had to choose between a music career and the priest­hood. He also decided to forgo his own romantic opportunity for the sake of his higher calling, leaving his girl disappointed. Now we see Father O'Malley graciously paying for the broken glass caused by a base­ball the kids he was playing with hit through a window. In the 2019 movie, “Midsommar,” a young man named Christian forgets his needy girl­friend Dani's birth­day and has a roving eye on their vacation. She'll eventually be perplexed about his higher calling in a Viking sacrifice. Which one of the two men is a true champion of women and which one a false? It's really hard to tell from the perplexity and disap­point­ment of the women contem­plating their man's higher calling. The simple gestures, though, offer a surer indicator. See other of my reviews illustrating m-f relations hard to scope out.

Production Values

” (2019) was written and directed by Sam Mendes. His co-writer was Krysty Wilson-Cairns. It stars George McKay, Dean Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumber­batch. The acting was rather decent considering this was primarily an action flick.

MPAA rated it R for violence, some disturbing images, and language. It was filmed on Salisbury Plains, Wilt­shire, England in one continuous take. Hitchcock, the genius, did the same in “Rope,” but it's a feat seldom imitated on account of its technical difficulty. It was done in the movie, “Silent House” where there wasn't any point to it. Here it stretched out the tension. Very clever. Kudos to cinema­tog­rapher Roger Deakins. The sets, the costumes, the smooth camera work, and the punctil­iously choreo­graphed action scenes were all first rate. This celluloid warfare was more in the realism camp than Hollywood glamorized.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

There wasn't a whole lot of character development, just the simmering action. If your preferences lean that way, then you'll likely enjoy this one.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.