And if we are lucky, maybe, just perhaps maybe, a discussion will begin on other nominees in the Best Picture category that preferred to speak in binaries while pretending not to do so that faked nuance while in fact telling a one-sided story.
In 2020’s Oscar season, 1917 did that to me. Roger Deakins’ cinematography in this British film directed by Sam Mendes has rightly won an Academy Award with its purposeful creation of the impression that the entire story had been shot in one take. It is an experientialventure, the sort that justifies the existence of giant screens and cinema halls in this age of cellphone viewing, as it transports audiences to early 20th century Europe and the brutality of the First World War.
Unfortunately, the talk surrounding 1917 has been focused primarily on its technical achievements and secondarily on its unequivocal opposition to war, without a whisper about the doublespeak in the film’s claims of noble goals.
In an interview to Time magazine in the US, when asked why he made 1917 now, Mendes said: “I
His co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns informed the UK’s Guardian newspaper that one of her grandfathers told her “understanding history is the only way to avert future catastrophe. The first world war was the stupidest thing humanity ever did to each other”. And Mendesexplained to the same journalist: “People who are attached to some sort of nostalgic vision treat these wars retrospectively as triumphs. In fact, they were tragedies.”
Yet, whether unwittingly or with insidious intent, 1917 repeats the mistakes of the past by taking sides despite making a great show of being objective and neutral. Throughout the narrative, there is no question that the German – evil, scheming and alien – is the other, while the British are helpless participants in circumstances not of their making. This is not the point of view of the characters but the point of view of the film itself.
At the centre of 1917 are twotraversing war-ravaged terrain on their way to deliver an urgent message to a senior officer who might otherwise fall prey to German strategy. In the miserable position that they find themselves in, I am not suggesting at all that Mendes and Wilson-Cairns by choosing to feature
The kind response to 1917 would be to say that perhaps Mendes and victimsBaumbach
The problem with 1917 and Marriage Story is not so much that they take sides, but that they camouflage their aims. The problem with them is not that they are prejudiced, but that they are dishonest, clever and dangerous because of how convincing they are.
Somewhere in a cinematic paradise of my imagination,
This article was published on Firstpost on February10, 2020:
Photographs courtesy: Wikipedia