The big winner at Sunday night’s BAFTA awards Sam Mendes 1917 is made to look like it was all shot in one continuous take a la Victoria but is actually a number of long shots cleverly stitched together with invisible joins in the same vein as Birdman. It’s a stylistic choice that suits the subject matter putting the audience right in the thick of the action as we follow George MacKay’s Lance Corporal Schofield through the WW1 trenches on a perilous mission to hand deliver a life saving message.
After gaining first hand experience on Children of Men I know technically just how hard it is to pull off these kind of shots but DOP Roger Deakins and his camera operators do an amazing job.
There is one join that Mendes doesn’t try to hide, when Schofield passes out and the screen fades to black. This allows enough time to pass when he wakes for day to have turned to night and the most striking looking scene plays out like a dream as flares light up the ruins of a French village causing the broken buildings to cast beautiful shadows.