I went to see 1917 recently and seem to be in a minority of one that didn’t like it. Where to start? The story was ridiculous. Communications would never have been so bad as to depend on two men getting through no man’s land to stop an attack of that nature. It was set in early April yet ended in a meadow in high summer. The hero fell into a raging torrent from the Lake District or Scotland when the rivers of northern France hardly move. Much is made of the one take. Well yes - lots of one takes. Story line and character development? None existent. War is hell? Yes - up to a point - but to me it felt like a sophisticated video game. 

In contrast I rewatched Band of Brothers immediately afterwards and was even more impressed and moved the second time round. I found the start of each episode particularly impressive with the real characters, now old men, speaking of their experiences - good and bad - that was reflected in the drama of young men - boys really - faced with terror, pain, comradeship, heroism, exemplary leadership and its obverse and the utter misery of life in the open in wartime winter. My father-in-law, who was himself a film producer, had fought in all the same campaigns and always thought it was the very best depiction of the war that he had ever seen. The other was the action scenes in Saving Private Ryan. He had to leave the cinema when the tank engine started and the terrifying behemoth caused the ground and the cinema to shake. He too had been into a concentration camp, Belsen in his case, and witnessed the utter destruction of Germany at the end of the war. All at the age of eighteen.

I think he would have shared my view of 1917 - and I don’t think he would have been voting for it at the Oscars, not least because I’m sure he would have voted for Parasite - bought and distributed in the UK by his son, Philip Knatchbull. 


1 comment

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