World War I rarely becomes the backdrop for film stories. It is hardly surprising. Focused on the trenches, the battles were not as spectacular as the Blitzkrieg, aerial clashes over England, or US operations in the Pacific. 1917 from the very beginning, therefore, gains on uniqueness as one of the few productions that tried to show life in the trenches. And this is how the film begins. From the green, picturesque meadow we quickly get to the place where British soldiers are stationed.
The main characters, privates Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) receive from the command a very important task – to provide the order to cancel the attack on the allegedly retreating Germans. Well, the enemy does not run away at all, but only gives the impression to drag 1600 day soldiers stationed away from here into the trap. Among them is Blake's brother, which is probably also why he was chosen to carry out this mission. Schofield becomes the same hero from chance – unaware of anything, Blake takes him with him even before receiving orders. However, he will play the first fiddle as the action unfolds.
This way our journey begins. Literally a journey, because the movie is filled with long shots of a camera traveling with the characters. In film art, this is called a mastershot – apparently the whole film was made on one long shot, but it's rather a marketing gimmick, because the cuts are masked. The smooth movement of the camera shows Blake and Schofield walking through the trenches. More soldiers pass by. Some sleep covered with blankets. Others write letters. Someone is digging somewhere. Life in the trench is not particularly dynamic or interesting, but the tension increases with each subsequent step. In the trenches closer to the front are wounded. People become nervous and impulsive. The feeling of hopelessness transforms into a form of desperation bordering on resignation.