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1917

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1917

* * * * *

(Outstanding story of courage and determination)

Director Sam Mendes has taken stories told to him by his grandfather and constructed one of the best made films of the century.

1917 tells the story of two brave British men given orders by their general to find their way through enemy lines to warn 1,600 of their allies not to attack German troops who have set up a trap for them. To increase the tension, one of the soldier’s brothers is part of the group.

The film stars George MacKay as Schofield and Dean-Charles Chapman as Blake, two relatively unknowns who are both terrific.

The story follows the men in real time, adding to the excitement and tension as the camera follows them into the trenches, open fields, burned out cities, and dangers from snipers. The movie begins and ends in a tranquil setting, which soon turns to chaos, as the men fight their way to save their fellow British soldiers, fighting obstacles over a nine-mile course that they must cover in six to eight hours. Fighting the enemy in World War I was quite different back in 1917, where "trench warfare" was predominant.

The audience feels like it is actually happening with the men as they run, hide and crawl their way over dead soldiers and animals, narrowly avoiding the unseen enemy. There are some gruesome scenes, some unexpected detours, mud, water, enemy planes, snipers and moments of terror and fear, interrupted at one point by a very tender scene that will have you in tears. The background music, the cinematography, the acting and the directing all come together to make a movie that is a mile ahead of anything we've seen in a long time. Halfway through the movie, a tragedy occurs, and just about when you think the movie is over, there is a twist that changes its direction.

Everything about the movie shows what great film-making can be. This movie will win many deserved awards.

Rated R for the violence of war. I only recall one profanity in the entire movie.

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