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Film Review: Veteran's Verdict On Golden Globe-Winning '1917'

A former member of the Royal Air Force takes a closer look at Sir Sam Mendes' World War One film.

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By Ross Goold

I went into this movie with a blank mind.

I had heard all the hype and, if I am being honest, I pictured an in-the-trenches First World War epic.

We have seen this genre done before - sometimes good, sometimes bad.

However, with '1917' and Sir Sam Mendes I was expecting brilliance and I was not disappointed.

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(Picture: Entertainment One).

We begin with a similar premise to 'Saving Private Ryan'. A brother is tasked with sending a message that will save his brother's battalion from annihilation by the Germans.

This act of one man being sent to deliver a message immediately reminds us of the days before radio. A time when messages were sent by hand and the large timescales involved.

Immediately, Sir Sam Mendes' skills are apparent when the camera takes us on our journey alongside the main characters.

I mentioned the similarities to saving 'Saving Private Ryan', but they end there.

Whereas the 1998 Tom Hanks film relied on action, '1917' uses emotion, camera skills and music to constantly build tension to a series of ups and downs - like an exercise on the Brecon Beacons (I am ex-Air Force so Army friends have told me about them).

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(Picture: Entertainment One).

We quite literally follow our main character as he aims to pass on a message that will save his brother's life, along with thousands of his comrades.

This movie builds slowly, and is not a non-stop explosion-filled blockbuster, but I liked that.

I also liked that Mendes stayed away from the horrors of the trenches.

We have seen many films and documentaries where we are shown the horror of the trenchesbut in '1917' we see the Great War from a different perspective.

We see the smaller but just as brutal scale of the smaller battles for villages and towns.

I have to mention again the way it’s shot as it is just amazing.

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(Picture: Entertainment One).

We do not see wide shots where you get the feeling of detachment but close up behind shots of the characters we have absolute involvement with.

You truly feel the emotion and my hands were genuinely gripping the seat in the emotional involvement of our main characters.

Special mention has to go to a plane crash scene and the opening sequence where the audience is taken through the trenches.

In 1917 we have a truly British war epic.

If you love raw emotion and realism, then '1917' is the movie for you.

At points, I had tears in my eyes.

'1917' does it right - a powerful, well shot, well-acted film that pays true homage to the amazing story of our heroic forefathers.

Cover image: Entertainment One.