Making of 1917

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, find out how the Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated war drama 1917 was filmed to look like it unfolds in in a single shot. Plus, dancer Jenna Dewan, takes a look at dancing scenes from movies such as La La Land, Napoleon Dynamite, Save the Last Dance, Pulp Fiction, and more. And see how the flying sequences in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil were shot with special rigs and plenty of blue screen. Read More »

Sam Mendes and Christopher Nolan

If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then there are a select few living filmmakers whose ears must burn on a regular basis. The frequency of imitation arguably heightens which directors truly are considered among the greatest, or at least the most influential, ever — not many directors would copy someone whose work isn’t up to par. One of the most remarkable cases of imitation comes courtesy of a director who, 20 years ago, burst onto the scene with a debut film that felt defiant and daring creatively. When he directed American Beauty, Sam Mendes felt like a fresh new voice in English-language cinema. Yet now, Mendes cannot help but make films that are heavily indebted to Christopher Nolan. Read More »

1917 Sam Mendes interview

1917‘s seemingly death-defying camera work from master cinematographer (and recent Oscar winner) Roger Deakins is extraordinary as it moves through varying terrains in the guise of a single take, with no place to hide lights (he’s working in natural light most of the time). The result is a powerful antiwar statement couched in a tense and emotionally gripping work, as the camera seems to hover around the action as both a ghostly observer and a character in the trenches with the film’s leads.

1917 comes courtesy of director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall, Revolutionary Road) and his co-writer (and rising talent) Krysty Wilson-Cairns, the Penny Dreadful veteran who has also co-written Edgar Wright’s next movie, the horror-thriller Last Night in Soho/Film spoke with Mendes and Wilson-Cairns in Chicago recently to discuss the intricate process of mapping out the geographic journey of the movie’s two lead actors and how that impacted every other phase of the production, the emotional immediacy of making a film appear to occur in real time, and why the project was a deeply personal one for Mendes.
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1917 interview krysty wilson-cairns

1917 is a masterful piece of craftsmanship. Sam Mendes‘ one-shot epic takes a forward-thinking approach to its depiction of World War I, which is an almost apocalyptic vision. It’s a rare vision, too, in which the camerawork and technique are noticeable yet don’t detract from the experience. To write the ambitious war movie, Mendes called Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who was a writer on the Mendes-produced Penny Dreadful and recently co-wrote Edgar Wright’s next film, Last Night in Soho.

Over the last few years, Mendes and Wilson-Cairns collaborated and wrote a handful of scripts together, but for one reason or another, they never became movies. After what they’ve accomplished with 1917, we can only imagine what they could’ve done together sooner. They aimed high and didn’t miss their target on this one. Recently, Wilson-Cairns told us about the earliest ideas for 1917, influential war poetry, and the advantages of writing a one-shot movie. [Warning: this Q&A contains spoilers.]

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1917 trailer final

1917 is a war movie unlike any you’ve seen before. Sam Mendes‘ World War I saga unfolds as if it’s one very long, unbroken shot. It’s not, of course, but Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins found a way to make it work, and work considerably well. Now there’s one final 1917 trailer to set you up for what Mendes and company have in store. Watch it below.

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1917 featurette new

Ready for a deep-dive into 1917, the latest film from Sam Mendes? A new, unusually long featurette goes behind-the-scenes of the World War I epic, with Mendes talking about the origins of the movie, and cinematographer Roger Deakins delving into how he pulled off the film’s impressive “one-shot” set-up. Watch the 1917 featurette below.

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1917 review

Not since Mad Max: Fury Road has a film so fully embraced the “motion” part of motion pictures. Sam Mendes‘ jaw-dropping, nerve-jangling World War I epic 1917 is designed to look like one extremely long take from start to finish, resulting in a film that almost never sits still. The clock is ticking, and the narrative thrusts the characters forward as if a strong wind is at their backs.

One-take movies are nothing new, and 1917 ran a serious risk of being gimmicky. But Mendes, working with master cinematographer Roger Deakins, uses the single-take concept to fully enhance the narrative. Best of all, the film underscores its technical prowess with a raw, emotional story that finds beauty struggling to push through all the muck and mire. In 1917, war is hell, but it’s a hell you can find your way back from as long as you remember your humanity.

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1917 new york comic-con 2019

The reunion of the Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes with the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins was enough reason to be excited for the World War I drama 1917. A drama that takes place in one single day, 1917 follows two young British soldiers (Dean Charles Chapman and George MacKay) as they’re given an impossible mission of delivering a message deep into enemy territory to prevent a deadly massacre. But one more element would set this war drama apart from the rest: it is a two-hour movie that will be presented in one unbroken, continuous shot. Through a series of camera trickery and clever cuts, Mendes and Deakins are combining their talents to shoot one of the most ambitious war movies yet.

The duo — alongside producer Pippa Harris, co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and stars Dean Charles Chapman, George MacKay — seemed almost tranquil at the 1917 New York Comic-Con 2019 panel this Thursday. Here’s what we learned about the upcoming World War I drama.

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1917 trailer new

Sam Mendes takes you back to World War I with 1917, his new epic starring George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, with Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch. The film follows two British soldiers on a mission to deliver a message that will stop an attack and save thousands of lives. Watch the latest 1917 trailer below.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

1917 featurette

Cinephiles and casual movie-goers alike often go gaga over the idea of scenes, and even entire movies told in one continuous shot. Not only is it a technical achievement, but it also looks pretty darn cool, too. Sam Mendes‘ World War I film 1917 is the latest piece of entertainment to rely on this trick, tellings its entire story in one continuous shot. Of course, the movie wasn’t really shot that way, since that’s virtually impossible. But Mendes, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and more have banded together to make the film seem like it’s unfolding in one very long take. A new 1917 featurette highlights the technique.

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