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1917: How The Film Pulled Off Impressive Continuous Single-Shot Take

The behind the scenes on how 1917 was shot in one take.

The behind the scenes on how 1917 was shot in one take.

A side-by-side comparison video reveals how the film managed to place the viewer at the center of the action through their impressive techniques of single shots, emphasizing the realistic horror of WWI.

Sam Mendes recently released a new First World War epic that is taking cinemas by storm. The prolific director, known for past successes such as American Beauty, and directing two James Bond films, shocked audiences even more with his incredibly realistic and inclusive representation of WWI thanks to his single-shot techniques. 

Video from Insider Youtube

The film is based in Northern France and follows two young soldiers, played by George Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman who have the impossible mission to deliver a message to another battalion warning of an ambush following the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich and potentially saving 1,600 lives. 

The high stress scenario is heightened by Mendes’ choice of cinematography, using the single-continuous shot to suck the viewer directly into the story and adrenaline. He employed cinematographer Roger Deakins to assist him in bringing to fruition this idea. 

Mendes admits that some scenes took hundreds of shots, and sometimes wondered himself why he was so committed to representing the film as a continuous shot. The challenge of human error is especially daunting to overcome when long, perfect scenes run smoothly until someone trips at the very end, and it has to all be re-shot… 

We got through this whole scene – five-and-a-half minutes of absolutely everything in the right place, just beautiful, and the camera operator tripped on the mattress. Total human error. And it’s like, ‘No!!!’

Sam Mendes to Total Film

The film’s incredible technical achievement, however, has welcomed it to astounding critical and public reviews, showing in US cinemas since December and in the UK since the past month. 

Alongside Mackay and Chapman, fellow co-stars include Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch. 

Official Trailer by Universal Pictures

Read more on why 1917 is the next best war film here.

Featured Image via 1917 Trailer, Source: EONE  

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