In a matter of hours, the period epic 1917 will hit theaters on a massive wave of critical acclaim. As of Monday night, the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring flick has been Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 92 percent Fresh rating. Set during World War I, 1917 follows British soldiers Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) as they set out to transport a message about an upcoming enemy ambush.
We caught up with 1917 cinematographer Roger Deakins at New York Comic Con earlier this year, where the DP explained his challenges on shooting a war-time film set during the war to end all wars.
"The biggest challenge was to sort of have the camera connected to the characters so it was in the right place to tell the story, to get the right reactions, see the scenes, see the surroundings," Deakins told ComicBook.com. "So it was like a big dance. It's always that. Any film you do you're figuring, oh where do we want to play this wide? Do we need to see a reaction? What is the best angle? But obviously here all that had to work as one. So it was very much for Sam to stage the action, and us to stage the camera in a sort of balletic way that each complemented the other."
He added, "And the thing about doing something that long is it's obviously a lot of complex choreography. And then the longer shot goes on, say if I'm operating on a remote stabilizer system, I'm sitting there, and Andy Harris, my focus puller, is sitting there and we're all going... You get towards the end and you think, if anybody makes a mistake, then you've got all that other seven and a half minutes to go back and start again. And there might be explosions! So the pressure builds with the length of the shot. It's interesting."
1917 stars Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Mays, Adrian Scarborough, Jamie Parker, Elliot Baxter, Nabhaan Rizwan, Daniel McMillon, George Verrall, Jamie Vaughan, and Michael Cornelius. Sam Mendes directs from a script he co-wrote with Krysty Wilson-Cairns.
1917 begins its limited theatrical release December 25th before a wide release on January 10, 2020.