1917

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
1917 Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Unique WWI epic has brutal war violence, smoking.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 34 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 91 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

War is hell. Camaraderie and loyalty can help motivate people in dire circumstances. You can make headway in the worst situation if you persevere and focus on your goal. Themes include compassion and courage.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Blake and Schofield demonstrate incredible courage for the greater good, as well as compassion for others -- including the enemy. Schofield perseveres on his mission, even after being given the opportunity to seek a safer situation. 

Violence

Horrors of war are on full display from a first-person viewpoint, including being shot at, feeling the fear of the enemy nearby, getting bombed. Climbing over human carcasses, walking past dead animals. A couple of instances of men killing enemies face to face. Many bloody, gory injuries, including missing limbs, men writhing in pain. A soldier unintentionally puts his wounded hand in the open guts of a dead horse when he lands in a bomb crater. Characters are visibly in substantial peril throughout; tons of tension.

Sex

Masturbation joke.

Language

Strong language throughout, including "bastards," "piss off," "s--t," several uses of "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character drinks from flask. Smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 1917 is an outstanding World War I drama that makes viewers feel like they're experiencing what it might really have been like to be in the trenches on the front lines. Director Sam Mendes wrote the screenplay based on the stories his grandfather told him about being a runner in the British Army. The camera follows the young soldiers in one long tracking shot, making it feel like you're right in the action. Consequently, it all feels very real, and tension runs extremely high. Battle violence is graphically realistic, including shootings, strangling, stabbing, bombings, etc. Wounded soldiers are bloody, missing limbs, and crying in pain. Soldiers smoke (accurate for the era), drink, and use strong language ("f--k," "s--t"). Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth make cameo appearances alongside stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjimmythe64bitman December 21, 2019

Great Movie!

First off, this is a great movie. You should definitely take your teen to it. Also, this movie is not for little kids. If your tween is mature enough, you shou... Continue reading
Adult Written byJ.Trix December 19, 2019

This movie had me paralyzed! So good!

For parents,
Absolutely for young action-seeking teens, the movie does have very intense peril, but it’s not noticeable. It did have my adrenaline pumping thou... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byYTSwizzi December 29, 2019

Just like Saving Private Ryan

I've been watching war movies since I was 4. My first war movie was Saving Private Ryan. I grew up in a military household and therefore I'm offeneded... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySam1306 January 26, 2020

Powerful, Violent, and groundbreaking Achievement

I loved this movie, I thought that Sam Mendes did a masterful job behind the camera. Every shot is filled with information, the cinematography is gorgeous. On t... Continue reading

What's the story?

During World War I, it's 1917, and British soldiers Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are selected to deliver an urgent message to a nearby battalion. In their high-stakes effort to save 1,600 lives, the runners must themselves survive the journey through enemy territory.

Is it any good?

About 15 minutes in to this movie, it dawns on you that this is something uniquely brilliant; by the end, it's clear that Sam Mendes has made one of the best films of 2019. That's largely because of the innovative cinematography: The entire film is one long tracking shot. Of course, there are edits, as imperceptible to viewers as they might be. And, honestly, whether or when the film stopped rolling isn't the point -- it's the effect. As the camera follows the two British runners trying to get across a German-occupied battlefield to deliver their urgent message, it moves around them -- in front, behind, next to, sometimes around a rock or a slightly different route but keeping the soldiers in view. It creates the video game-like feeling that you're the third runner on the mission. The first-person viewpoint transforms the experience of watching 1917 into something intimate, just short of interactive. Cinematographers aren't often household names, but Roger Deakins might just become one thanks to this Herculean accomplishment.

Given that the film is essentially a one-direction journey in which the camera rarely stops rolling, the production design is a real feat. Smoke and mirrors can't possibly exist: We follow Blake and Schofield through a looooooong trench, a maze of a barracks, and French countryside that's ravaged from the wages of war. The actors are all superb, but MacKay will rip your heart out as a low-ranking officer who's resentful of his assignment but rises to see his mission through, no matter the potential sacrifice. Teens may be reluctant to see a movie about World War I, but 1917 could be a game changer: It's hard to imagine anyone won't appreciate its originality, heart, and grit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about World War I. How was it different from other wars? How have you seen it depicted in the media before? How does 1917's portrayal of it compare?

  • Did you find the movie's violence realistic? How does the impact of this kind of violence compare to what you might see in a horror or superhero movie? Why do you think the filmmakers chose to show the violence in this way?

  • Why do you think the filmmakers chose their unusual camera technique? How did it change your experience as a viewer? Do you think it was effective?

  • How do the characters demonstrate compassion? In the heat of war, is compassion a luxury, or a necessity? How do you think Blake should have interacted with the pilot?

  • Talk about examples of teamwork in the film. Why is it important in the film, and why is it an important skill in real life?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

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