Movies by Mills (February 2020)

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1917 Directed by Sam Mendes Starring: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Andrew Scott If we’re not clever enough about this, no one will get to your brother. - Lance Corporal Schofield I will. - Lance Corporal Blake Sam Mendes, director of “American Beauty”, which won him an Oscar for his first feature film looks likely to win him a second for “1917”, a powerful first world war drama that is filmed to appear to be one continuous shot, plunging the viewer into the dugouts with two young British soldiers as they struggle through the enemy lines to give a message to call off the planned assault because the Germans have made a strategic withdrawal, seemingly to suggest that they are on the retreat, when in fact they’re lying in wait to repel the British attack; so they would be walking into a trap. Schofield and Blake, played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, are outstanding in their roles as the youthful soldiers. The mud-squelching journey embedded itself in Sam Mendes’ mind when his grandfather told him stories about why he was habitually washing his hands because he remembers the mud in the trenches and how he was never able to get clean. There are moments in the film which will make you jump, and the film is up there with the best war films: All Quiet on The Western Front, Dunkirk, Saving Private Ryan… For the lead actors, they too had their stories to tell. Chapman read a collection of diaries between takes and was especially impressed by one written by a man who was in the calvary, shot in the hip and spent four paralyzed hours in no man’s land. “It turned out it was my great- great grandfather! He went on to work in the first poppy factory in Richmond.” Dean-Charles Chapman is proud and awed but hasn’t investigated any further.

McKay says: “Watching the film made it very clear to me who I want to come back to in my life, who means the most to me. Usually, seeing 4