A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Strong language throughout, including "bastards," "piss off," "s--t," several uses of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character drinks from flask. Smoking.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.