December 10, 2019

'1917': Watch How Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins Shot This Amazing War Movie

1917 is unlike any war movie you have ever seen before. This extended featurette reveals how director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins pulled it off.

1917 is a late comer to the crowded pack of 2019 awards contenders, but this WWI epic is giving the other films gunning for Oscar a run for their money.

Director Sam Mendes reunites with his Skyfall DP, Roger Deakins, to tell a very intense, ticking-clock war drama that follows the efforts of two untested soldiers struggling to deliver a vital message before it's too late.

And, as you may have heard by now, it all unfolds seemingly in one take. 

While 1917 isn't the first time a feature film has experimented with playing out all in one uninterrupted take before (see Rope or Silent House), the Universal Studios release is one of the best -- if not the best -- attempt at the format ever released. And Universal just released an extended, nearly 12-minute behind-the-scenes doc chronicling how the filmmakers pulled it off.

Watch below:

Sure, the video is a DVD bonus feature disguised as advertorial to get butts in seats. At the same time, it's damn effective and interesting to watch how the cast and crew achieved this landmark feature film experiment. 

What You Can Learn

What the above featurette does best is reveal the intricate planning that goes into everything from designing sets and camera set-ups to accommodate making a movie that has to look like it was shot in one continuous take.

The production designers have to measure and construct their sets with exact precision, too big or too small could compromise the needs of the specific scene being shot and therefore ripple effect the rest of the production.

And negotiating the production demands of shooting exteriors within the constraint of a very specific oner is just as trying. Filmmakers document here how difficult it was to execute Mendes' vision when they cannot control the weather or lightning -- which makes continuity extra nightmare-y given the oner.

From props to set design, 1971 is a testament to how necessary collaboration is on set -- and how the slightest miscalculation or glitch in the planning can disrupt the whole shoot. So many moving parts need to synch up for a normal narrative feature to gel into a movie worthy of your box office.

The fact that 1917 and its crew pulled this off, given their unique set of challenges, is nothing short of miraculous.

See for yourself when 1917 opens in limited release on Christmas Day.      

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I have not watched this film yet, but after reading this article I will definitely watch it.

December 11, 2019 at 5:19AM

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