One of the likely contenders to win Best Picture at this year’s Oscars is 1917, Sam Mendes’ film about two soldiers racing through enemy territory on a mission to save hundreds of their fellow soldiers. It’s good, but but how does the movie, and it’s exceptional attention to detail, stand up to the scrutiny of experts who know all the ins and outs of the Great War?
If you’re a fan of 1917, and if you’ve been wondering about its historical accuracy, this week’s edition of the podcast is for you. Fortunately in Guelph, we have some local expertise on the history of World War One in the form of of Ken Irvine, the Education Co-ordinator of Guelph Museums. If you’ve been to McCrae House, then you might have heard Ken Irvine bring the War, and the experiences of Col. John McCrae, to life for hundreds of area school children and other visitors.
Co-written and directed by Mendes, who is the Academy Award-winning director of American Beauty, 1917 has an interesting creative concept: it has shot and staged as if the two-hour movie unfolds as one continuous shot. It’s a logistical feat that’s been attempted before by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Alejandro G. Iñárritu, but never has anyone tried to use this storytelling device for a war movie. When we reviewed 1917 a few weeks back on End Credits, the question was there in the back of the mind, “What would the staff of McCrae House think of this movie?”
That brings us to this week’s episode of the podcast, as Irvine walks with us though the plot of the movie and talk about whether Mendes’ attention to detail pays off for someone who lives the real history on a daily basis. We talk about the plausibility of the movie’s central mission, the thoughts and feelings of the soldiers fighting in the real 1917, and how well the two main characters represent the real soldiers in the British regiment on the Western Front. We will also discuss where historical accuracy goes wrong, and what Irvine would like to see in war movies that he’s never seen before.
So let’s talk about the real 1917 versus the reel 1917 on this week’s edition of the Guelph Politicast!
McCrae House is open Wednesdays from 1 to 5 pm or by appointment at 519-836-1221. To learn more about their programs and the collections, go to the Guelph Museums website. 1917 is currently in theatres everywhere, and the Oscars air this Sunday night. The eBar will be holding its annual watch party hosted by Athena McQueen starting at 6:30 pm.
Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.