How does one fashion an authentic yet emotionally engaging World War I movie in something that approximates real time? Director Sam Mendes knows – his Golden Globe-winning drama 1917 unfolds in the illusion of one shot, taking audiences on an immersive journey across the Western Front, following two soldiers tasked with delivering an important message.
The American Beauty and Skyfall director breaks new ground with his visual choreography, seamlessly taking us from the scorched earth environment of the German front line to the relatively bucolic environment of a French farmhouse, and a hellish ruined town lit by muzzle fire and distress flares.
Mendes works with Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins (the Oscar-winning visual artist behind Blade Runner 2049) to paint a visceral depiction of trench warfare. Yet he's keen to stress that the emotional pull of the movie rests on the characters played by Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay, upon whose soldiers rests the fate of an entire British battalion.
Go behind the scenes of the Oscar-tipped movie in the following video, in which Mendes talks us through his process, and the art department discuss the intimidating challenges of sculpting accurate depictions of the World War I trenches from imagination.
Click here to book your tickets for 1917, releasing in Cineworld cinemas on the 10th of January.