In just a few weeks, ‘ 1917 ‘ has positioned itself as one of the great contenders for the 2020 Oscars.
It only needed an amazing story in sequence between the trenches of the First World War , a ‘making of’ of the filming that left us with our mouths open and two important and unexpected Golden Globes ( Best Picture and Best Direction ) to be crowned as one of the movies of the season. It seems that the director Sam Mendes (‘American Beauty’, ‘Skyfall’) has managed to give the war genre another twist, taking over from the recently successful ‘Dunkirk’ by Christopher Nolan. If that one used the historic evacuation of Dunkirk (known as Operation Dynamo), Mendes throws less of the history books and more of a personal story that touches him very closely.
In the film, which premiered this weekend on the Spanish billboard, we follow the adventures of two British soldiers, Blake ( Dean-Charles Chapman ) and Schofield ( George MacKay ), who have been assigned the dangerous mission of deliver a very important message to the other side of the trenches. A part of the troops will soon be ambushed by the German army , so completing the task is a matter of life and death for thousands of their comrades, including Blake’s brother.The role of the “messenger” in war isn’t one we’ve seen in too many movies, but the filmmaker includes it inspired by his grandfather, Alfred H. Mendes , who had this role during the Great War. Although we do not think that this is any kind of biopic: Mendes and his co -writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns created fictional characters and missions for the film, although the spirit was with Grandpa Mendes. “The characters played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman are not my grandfather,” the director clarified in an interview with Deadline, “but the spirit of what he told me and the central idea of a man carrying a message has not left me. ever in the last 50 years .”
Indeed, if we delve a little into the details of the story, we will realize that there are important divergences between the true story of grandfather Mendes and the events of the film. For starters, it wasn’t until October 1917 that the soldier landed on the battlefield, whereas the film is set in early April of that same year. The reason is simple: the filmmaker needed an excuse for his message, and Operation Alberich was irresistible. This German maneuver consisted of abandoning some of the areas that they had conquered in the first years of the war to reinforce the Hindenburg Line , an extensive armed trench that would hold out until the end of the following year.In this situation, it is not hard to imagine the bewilderment of the rival side: was Germany withdrawing or were they preparing something dangerous? The lack of communication channels (they could not take out the iPhone and notify them of what was happening on the battlefield) made it necessary to resort to human messengers in these cases to disseminate information about what was taking place and the orders to do so. what had to be done All chaos, without a doubt, that we see reflected in ‘1917’, which takes this historical event as its starting point . This is how Mendes told it in the aforementioned Deadline interview:
“[The Germans] covered their tracks very well: they literally abandoned the existing line overnight, 42 miles of line, and just disappeared. The British for a moment didn’t know if they had withdrawn or surrendered. The investigation shows that everyone was in disagreement. Someone 100 yards away from another person may have a completely different impression of what is happening. There was no communication. Everyone was in disagreement. There you have a dramatically wonderful situation.”
That moment of confusion on the British side made the task of the messengers crucial. Once the new attack plan was drawn up, it took them more than two months to access the new line marked by the Germans. Although at that time, and this is also a reason why the film chooses these dates and events, the US military decided to take sides in the war .