Topics in History: History through Film

A Southport student review of the 2019 movie 1917

Topics is a course at Southport High School taught by Kevin Sanders that analyzes major events from United States and world history through Hollywood films that attempt to portray those events. Students investigate historical documents and other sources to determine if a film is historically accurate.

The goal is for students to develop deeper understandings of the historical discipline while generating questions about the way the world is around them, along with watching classical films that have graced American and international screens.

Student: Braeden Bryant

Film Reviewed: 1917

I think 1917 is a great movie because of the way it is filmed and the way it makes the viewer feel as they watch it. 1917 is a single-shot coverage film, which means that the whole movie is filmed in one shot, and there are no cuts throughout the whole thing. As you watch 1917 the camera follows the two soldiers, Schofield and Blake, and the camera is usually placed behind them and above their shoulders, so it seems like you are there with them and walking with them as well. This can cause the viewer to have a closer connection to the characters and to what is happening in the movie.

In a part of the movie, Schofield asks a number of soldiers where he can find Col. Mackenzie, but they keep pointing him further and further down the trench line. As the attack continues, Schofield realizes he must leave the trenches and sprints across the battlefield in order to have any chance of finding Mackenzie in time. As he is sprinting the camera keeps right in front of him the whole time to show the viewer the danger he is running through and how fast he is running. It makes the viewer feel tense and wonder if he will make it. This part of the movie also picks up the tempo and makes the viewer feel different emotions before switching to a slower pace. According to Roger Ebert and his corresponding movie review, Roger Ebert says that the movie was so obsessed with the single shot coverage film technique that they left no room for other kinds of film techniques. But I think that they did this on purpose to emphasize the single-shot coverage film. I think 1917 is a good movie because of how it makes the viewer feel.