ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Their Urgent Mission: 1917

Updated on March 7, 2020


Two British lance corporals are summoned to a meeting with a general and other high ranking officers. They have been assigned to deliver a message to nearby British troops in 1917. The movie takes place over the course of an April day as they make their way to their fellow fighters. Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) was selected for the mission because he does well at reading maps. When the officers ask him to bring another soldier, he chooses Will Schofield (George MacKay), to whom he'd been speaking when summoned. General Erinmore (Colin Firth) informs the corporals that aerial photos have abandoned the trenches adjacent to their position. They have left to join other German forces in a planned ambush of another British platoon. Since the Germans cut phone lines as a part of their exit, the corporals must reach this platoon on foot. Since Blake's brother is a part of that force, Blake agrees to leave with Schofield immediately.

When they leave the trenches, the soldiers find much death and devastation in this No Man's Land. They discover the Germans made foot pursuit hard by leaving traps for those who might try. After a trip wire detonates and nearly buries Will alive, they follow the maps to get to their final destination. That doesn't mean that the Germans have completely abandoned the area. An aerial fight between British and German aviators has fatal consequences for Tom. Will gets the map and some good fortune by catching a ride with other British soldiers that include Captain Smith (Mark Strong). They take him to the spot where the map directs him and continues the journey into the night. He encounters more Germans, as well as French citizens seeking shelter from the gunfire. When he reaches his final destination, he discovers that Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) has already begun the first wave of the battle.


Three different war films of recent years have used western France as a setting. Dunkirk, set in World War II, told the tale of British troops seeking rescue from Nazi forces that surround them. They Shall Not Grow Old used actual footage from World War I and combined it with soldier testimonials to talk about the battle in France from beginning to end. In 1917, director and co-writer Sam Mendes tells his tale in one continuous sequence. Each of these movies focus on the lower-ranked soldiers, and tell their tales in a simple and straightforward manner. The bleak somewhat graphic approach helped to give cinematographer Roger Deakins an Oscar for his cinematography, which also shows seamless long takes. While I admire the aesthetics and narrative approach, I don't have the same level of reverence for 1917 that I do for two classic World War I movies I have seen. The Grand Illusion and Paths Of Glory tell their stories from two different perspectives, and do more to include the actions of soldiers and officers alike.

The biggest names in 1917 - Firth, Strong, and Cumberbatch - make brief appearances. I'd never seen Chapman in a movie before this, and the last performance I saw MacKay give was years ago in the World War II movie Defiance. These young actors put a human face to the conflict in different ways. Each does a fine job here. Will is more reserved about his feelings, choosing to focus more on the task at hand. He takes lethal action when necessary, though he can't do anything to save Tom. He also shows a personal side when he leaves some milk for the French people he encounters. His final scene shows a glimpse of his home life. Chapman is a bit more open as Tom, and that openness leads to his downfall when he assumes a German pilot will be grateful for being extracted from his burning plane. Tom believed enough in Will to make him the partner of this journey, and it turned out to be one of his last good decisions.


As Peter Jackson stated at the end of They Shall Not Grow Old, Sam Mendes likewise stated a personal connection to an ancestor who served in World War I. He also began the tale of 1917 on the very day that the United States entered the conflict. As new allies made their way there, two men embarked on a journey to save the lives of who don't know the trouble they're about to face. The journey may be small in number, but it is much larger in its scope.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give 1917 3.5 stars. Going through enemy lines.

1917 trailer

© 2020 Pat Mills


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)