Note: There are a few very minimalist spoilers in this review. Nothing major, but still, fair warning…
We recently went to see “1917” at a local movie theater. Most of you who have followed me for a while now know that I’m not really a fan of the movie-going experience. It used to be great fun, when I was a young gayling stumbling my way toward whatever I was meant to be. Back then, centuries ago, people knew how to behave, and there were certain protocols that one simply did not breach. You sat down and you watched the movie and you didn’t intrude on the experience unless it was to laugh or cry at the appropriate moment to laugh or cry.
Things have changed since, because society has changed, and not for the better in certain aspects. Some people, having not been raised right (let’s be honest) and never having their actions tempered by a firm “No!” from their parental units, don’t know how to function in public. These folks have no appreciation for personal responsibility, with the concept of “consideration of others” never even crossing their coddled minds.
Thusly, said movie-going experience degenerated into a cesspool of annoyance. A decent person couldn’t enjoy the feature presentation, what with all the intrusive conversation, lack of respect for the right thing to do, and those blinding flashes from cellphones that shouldn’t be flashing in the first place. (You came here with the sole intention of taking a selfie of you pretending to watch a movie instead of actually watching the movie? Sometimes I just can’t stand people.)
Luckily, a budding theater chain that understands the sanctity of the film-watching experience established a location that is not that far from our neck of the woods. (I suppose “neck” is not the proper term, implying a rural atmosphere that doesn’t really apply, as the location is essentially in downtown Dallas. But we live mere minutes from said downtown, and I’ll claim that as a neck.) This chain does not play when it comes to proper behavior. If you act a fool, they will escort your ass out of the theater.
This thrills me. I wish the concept was more prevalent in all aspects of society. Stop expecting others to put up with your nonsense and own what you do.
All of the above is a preamble to underline that I do understand how some folks are leery of perusing a movie in public. I get it, been there and not enjoyed that. But “1917” is a movie that can only be fully appreciated on the big screen and not in the confines of your own dwelling, no matter how progressive you think your TV might be. It just won’t play as well.
From a plot perspective, there are some quibbles. (The “happenstance of milk” bit seems forced, for instance. The main characters are somewhat flimsy in development, and it’s a fair argument that the special effects can overtake the story at points.) But from a technical perspective, this movie is a marvel. There are so many amazingly-shot scenes that it’s almost overwhelming, to the point that you might not fully appreciate all of it, saturated as you are. (My favorite scene? Perhaps that desperate run along the front line. Or maybe the awful beauty of the fire-lit village. Or the unexpected song. Still deciding.)
Right after watching this movie, we joined some of our friends for a happy hour, a regular thing that we do. One of said friends asked if I experienced motion sickness during the show. Motion sickness? Is that really a trending topic? Apparently, it is, considering the movie appears to be shot in two very-long takes, with a single “break” toward the middle. I suppose some folks might find that taxing, with your constant attention required. (Shouldn’t a well-crafted movie expect you to pay attention, though?) I was invested the entire time, no motion issues whatsoever. It is not the greatest flick you’ve ever seen, but it is very well done, regardless of your own thoughts on the subject matter. And that makes for a good theater experience, losing yourself in a different time and place.