This modern ‘you are there’ film brings the viewer into the action, as did A Private War. It hardly seems possible to film action scenes in the hopeless trenches of WWI, but that is accomplished well here.
“1917” sticks to the mission portrayed for two soldiers, a match for “Saving Private Ryan” in terms of staying on track. Both are graphic. While the WWII tale is more epic in scale with its depiction of war, this WWI film is more inside the fate-accepting mind of the lonely soldier.
It is a battlefield setting but a personal tale of perseverance and commitment. It is a refreshing individual soldier’s story rather than that of generals and leaders. It is more “To Hell and Back” than “Patton,” more about the meek than the commanding, more Audie Murphy than George C. Scott.
Returning to the first comparison above, the strongest feature of 1917 is that it maintains the story arc better than Private War despite not reaching the same depth of character portrayal. Private War seemed superior in regard to putting the viewer into a setting with all the senses, to virtually feel, hear, smell, and taste the action.
With 1917, I was there as a viewer, making it best on a big broad theater screen. Private War was excellent on just an airliner seat-back display. While 1917 is an appealing soldier’s story, I expect the journalistic angle and modernity of the other will appeal to more people.
If tolerable of scenes showing wartime horror, I endorse seeing the “1917” movie to be taken into an era too far forgotten a century later.
*(star) rating in the title is mine; e.g. 7*=Seven Stars (maximum 10)