The warring history of the world has been a very convenient subject for our filmmakers to depict in their creations. We have had scores of legendary movies filling us with both awe and shock at the lengths men could go to establish their superiority over each other. There have been multiple works of fiction too, but no one can attest if those could even scrape the reality that happened, particularly the movies that had the World Wars as their subject.
Sam Mendes has gone and created a world war masterpiece whose distinction is its ability to keep you reeled in. Perhaps, the cinematography is a major contributor to the simplistic storytelling, with the one shot technique that relieves you of keeping tab of scene changes or multiple storylines. Unfortunately, that also leads to the movie losing elements of surprise as the narrative goes on to be predictable at most parts, but the connection of the viewer with the protagonists is not lost as the story shifts fluidly and the race against time ensues.
The casting is commendable. Movie makers of the 21st century have realised that casting blockbuster superstars into lead roles has become a cliché. The characters are relatable and a reminder of the fact that most of the soldiers recruited to serve the nation’s cause were barely out of puberty. They were no heroes, no trained assassins ready to pull out their guns and kill the bad guys. They just wanted to go home to their families and hopefully, in single piece. The film justifies this psyche completely in multiple characters, including the protagonists.
All through the movie, you can feel the urgency of the mission to be completed. The beauty that Mendes has rendered perfectly is the fact that the fate of sixteen hundred lives rested on the actions of two and no one could realise the gravitas of this responsibility and stop and appreciate it because this was war and things like this happened every day. Most of the soldiers could never know whose efforts it took for them to remain alive and their families could never thank the seemingly insignificant members of the army without whose determination and bravery they would never have seen the faces of their loved ones again.
In my opinion, this could be a contender for the Best Picture Oscar to Todd Philipps’ Joker, but to what extent, it cannot be determined. The academy has been notorious for the past couple of years to churn out the least favourable contender for the prized accolade. So, we are going to have to wait for the results….