Incredible Behind-the-Scenes Look at Mendes' One-Shot '1917' Movie
by Alex Billington
September 30, 2019
"There is no better way to tell this story than with one continuous shot." Ohhhhh hell yes! Another one-shot movie coming up this year. Universal has debuted a fascinating behind-the-scenes featurette for Sam Mendes' latest movie 1917, set during World War I in the year 1917 - watch the intense full trailer now. The war movie takes place over the course of one day, following soldiers on a "seemingly impossible mission" to deliver a message across enemy lines to stop an attack that will kill their own soldiers. With cinematography by Roger Deakins, of course. The excellent ensemble cast features: Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, George MacKay, Teresa Mahoney, Dean-Charles Chapman, Daniel Mays, Adrian Scarborough, Justin Edwards, Gerran Howell, Anson Boon, and Richard McCabe. I love that they release these featurettes now, instead of saving them only for Blu-ray special features, because this looks magnificent. So much movie-making magic being shown! Wow.
Here's the official behind-the-scenes featurette for Sam Mendes' 1917, direct from Universal's YouTube:
You can still watch the first teaser trailer for Sam Mendes' 1917 here, or the recent full-length trailer here.
At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will put a stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers – Blake's own brother among them. 1917 is directed by Oscar-winning English filmmaker Sam Mendes, director of the films American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Jarhead, Revolutionary Road, Away We Go, plus James Bond's Skyfall and Spectre previously. The screenplay is written by Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Produced by Pippa Harris, Callum McDougall, Sam Mendes, and Jayne-Ann Tenggren; co-produced by Michael Lerman. Amblin + Universal Pictures will open Sam Mendes' 1917 movie in theaters everywhere starting December 25th, on Christmas Day, at the end of this year. Planning to go watch this in theaters?
This looks incredible. Behind the scenes content like this always make me appreciate the film so much more. Hyped!
Nick Sears on Sep 30, 2019
Truly Stunning. I hope they show how brutal this war was in the most fucked up way.
DAVIDPD on Sep 30, 2019
you're right - it's the only way to do that war justice is to show how it really was. hopefully, they don't do to this what was done to "gettysburg".
dan on Oct 1, 2019
Just to clarify: while they’re not super clear about it in the featurette, I’m pretty sure the movie isn’t completely done in one shot. Instead I believe they’re going for the pseudo one-shot effect, similar to what they did in Birdman. That’s why they were talking about waiting for cloud cover to maintain continuity.
lewis on Sep 30, 2019
You are exactly right. It's impossible to shoot a whole 2 hr. movie with one, continuous shot. They shot for many days and weeks, but shot it so they could edit it to look like one shot or take. It's a bit disingenuous to keep marketing it with the 'one shot' thing and that's all it is, in the end, a marketing ploy. I find it ridiculous and it really would't be that difficult to pull off. Just figure out logistically how to keep shooting each take from the end of the last one each day of shooting. Pretty easy, actually. It's just a gimmick to me, but I get the aesthetic reasoning for making it look like one shot and all the scenes occurring in one day. I am interested in seeing how they pulled it off, but really, it's not that difficult. Might even be easier editing-wise because you always know where you are and where you are going and it's all one day. I have heard this movie is much better than Dunkirk. I hope so because I didn't I didn't care for Nolan's war movie at all. So you are right in your observation. It's all a trick...lol...
thespiritbo on Sep 30, 2019
Where have you heard that this movie is much better than Dunkirk when it's still in post production and months away from release?
Efterklang on Sep 30, 2019
I can't say for sure, but I read it somewhere online. In a few different places or sites. It's probably done now and people have seen it so the word is getting around. Sorry I can't be more definitive for you. I do get the sense that it is going to be compared to Dunkirk though. I don't really care as I didn't care for Dunkirk and don't have a whole lot of interest in 1917 except am curious at the technique they did to make it look like one take and if it served the purposes they had for doing it that way. Cheers!
thespiritbo on Oct 1, 2019
I mean, it’s not impossible to shoot a 2 hr movie in one shot (2015’s Victoria was a 132 min single-shot film), but whatever. I wasn’t looking to diminish the movie as being “easier” at all, just clarifying for FS since the article seemed to imply that it was all done in one shot. This still looks like quite an achievement, and I’m looking forward to it. Sam Mendes + Roger Deakins = butt in seat for me.
lewis on Sep 30, 2019
Thank you, I was just about to rewatch Victoria, a masterpiece one shot.
Wayne on Oct 1, 2019
Thank you for your informative response and stimulating my memory. I went to IMDB to read about this film and remember when it was around in 2015. I never got to see it, but you are right. They shot 3 takes with take 3 being the one used and it ran for like 2 and a half hours. Amazing! I watched a trailer and the movie itself looks great, but I didn't get the one take of it because the trailer was cut and edited with different shots I guess to show the effect of the whole piece within a 2 minute trailer. So thanks again for the head's up on Victoria. I too want to see 1917 because of both Mendes and Deakins even thought the subject doesn't interest me that much. I also am curious to see how they pieced together all the takes to look like one take and if they were successful in the aesthetic value of doing it that way. Cheers...and thanks again.
thespiritbo on Oct 1, 2019
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