By Dan Clendenin

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This movie about World War I was directed, produced, and co-written by Sam Mendes, and is partly based on the stories told to him by his grandfather Alfred Mendes. 1917 had its detractors, like those who thought that it sanitized the true carnage of the war, that there were historical inaccuracies, that its remarkable technical accomplishments overshadowed the narrative, or that the story was not realistic. I place myself in this camp. But far more critics agreed that it was one of the best films of 2019. It earned ten nominations at the Academy Awards (won two), and won two Golden Globe awards. Mendes drops the plot in the first five minutes. Corporals Blake and Schofield receive direct orders from the General for a special mission. Intelligence has determined that the Germans have retreated from the front line, but instead of a retreat it’s a “strategic withdrawal,” such that if the British pursue the Germans, they will be massacred. Blake and Schofield must deliver the message for the British to call off their attack, a task made more poignant because Blake has an older brother who’s embedded in the doomed mission. I watched this film on Amazon Streaming. For a disturbing contrast, and if you can bear to watch real film footage from World War I, I commend the music video (and its theological message) by Johnny Cash called “When the Man Comes Around.” See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEl2mC6DcOU

Dan Clendenin: dan@journeywithjesus.net

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