Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: Sam Mendes’ War Movie

Whether 1917 is a great film will take some time to determine. I can only say that director Sam Mendes has made a very good war film. And I would caution my readers that this is a war film, not an action film. If you go to see it and expect bang-bang-shoot-’em-up or a superhero movie, this one is not for you.

If you are looking for a good film about the realities of war, 1917 does that, and does it with six stars. If ever there was a war that was hell, it was World War I. The war has been going on for almost three years, and 1917 is not all quiet on the western front. At least, not in the trenches where men fight with the rats over food.

A battalion of 1600 British troops men are planning on pursuing the Germans the next morning as they retreat. But headquarters behind the lines have intelligence that it’s a trap. Unfortunately there is radio silence and the British cannot inform the advance company.

The British general sends two corporals, Schofield and Blake, on a mission to hand-deliver a message, warning the Dev Regiment of the trap. They have to cross the no-man’s land between the British and the German trenches, then make their way through the abandoned German trenches and through a town before the reach their comrades. They have less than twenty-four hours. And to emphasize the urgency, Blake’s brother is an officer with the Regiment.

In what could have been a boring slog of a journey, Mendes direction, Roger Deakens’ cinematography, the script by Krysty Wilson-Cairns and Sam Mendes, and Thomas Newman score heighten the tension again and again and make this film well-worth the two hours of viewing. There may be Germans ready to take the two down. As they make their way through a landscape strewn with the ravages of war, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for something to happen.

It has been said that combat brings out the best, and the worst, in men and women. And 1917 shows how true that can be. Schofield and Blake are two ordinary guys who swallow hard and face the unknown with courage. At the end of the movie, I was reminded of the Scripture that says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Schofield and Blake have shown that kind of love.

If there is a better film this year, I’m not sure what it would be. As for me, I give 1917 a big thumbs up and six out of five stars.

Uncle Bardie’s Creator Spotlight: Robert Capa, Photojournalist

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Creator Spotlight is the photojournalist Robert Capa:

You may have heard the names Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, W. Eugene Smith and Henri Cartier-Bresson. All great photographers. Let me call your attention to another, the photojournalist and war photographer, Robert Capa.

There were war photographers before Capa. British photographer Robert Fenton and Hungarian Carol Popp de Szathmar covered the Crimean War in the 1850s. Matthew Brady took over 10,000 images of the American Civil War.

But it is Robert Capa who comes to mind when I think of combat photojournalism. Beginning in the early 1930s, he took a photograph of Leon Trotsky at a rally. It was his first published picture. He was in Spain during the Spanish-Civil War. He was at D-Day. And he was in Israel during its founding. He ended his life, doing his job as he always did. In 1954, he stepped on a landmine.

It was Capa who said, “”If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” He was always close enough because his photographs are not just good enough. They are memorable. He set a standard which war photographers continue to live up to.

Looking through Capa’s photographs, we realize how essential these photojournalists are. They risk their lives to give the rest of us what can only be communicated in pictures. And their images are powerful when they show the truth of war.

So today I honor Robert Capa. And, in so doing, I honor all those journalists who put themselves in harm’s way.