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‘1917’ gets huge praise in first reactions: “The best war film since ‘Saving Private Ryan'”

The World War I movie is predicted to be a big awards contender

Sam Mendes’ World War I movie 1917 has received rave reviews in the first batch of critics’ reactions, with one critic calling it “the best war film since Saving Private Ryan“.

The ambitious one-shot movie, which follows two soldiers on the battlefields of northern France (played by Captain Fantastic‘s George McKay and Game of Thrones‘ Dean-Charles Chapman) has screened for US critics.

And while full reviews have yet to be released, the early reactions suggest that the movie could be a real contender come awards season.

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Particular praise has gone towards Roger Deakins’ cinematography and Mendes’ direction, as well as the score and the leads’ performances.

1917 is the best war film since SAVING PRIVATE RYAN,” wrote Clayton Davis. “The cinematography of the year. The cinematography of the decade. Thomas Newman’s orchestral masterpiece. Sam Mendes gift to cinema…and his family. Every ounce is powerful.”

1917 is audacious cinema executed by masters at the top of their craft,” Anne Thompson added. “And two young actors who will go far: Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay. The single takes serve the story, as you search the space for the next rifle shot. Huge applause for the panel after.

Dave Karger tweeted: “1917 is a masterful study of suspense, artistry, and timing. I’m in awe of how Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins pulled it off. Definite nominations for picture, director, cinematography, and design. Possibly score and sound editing too. A major wow.”

Erik Davis also called it “masterful”, adding: “It’s thrilling & emotional & I could not take my eyes off the screen from the second it began to the second it ended. The very definition of a film you MUST see on the big screen. Wow”.

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As well as McKay and Chapman, 1917 also stars Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Speaking previously about what to expect from the movie, Mendes explained: “The movie’s set in two hours of one day in the spring of 1917. The Germans – this is obviously true – retreated to the Hindenburg line and, for a few hours, the British had no idea where they’d gone.”

He added: “It’s across this landscape that the two young men are sent to preserve the lives of 1,600 men who are to be sent to attack the Hindenberg line… the movie takes place in just two hours and in one unbroken shot.”

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