Movie review from a history teacher – 1917

1917 - no man's land

As a History teacher, Historical reenactor and writer, I have VERY high standards for movies that claim to be historical or even based on actual events. When I critique a movie that has a historical premise, I ask a few questions: does this movie have useful information, as well as being entertaining; can I show this movie to my students; and, if I show this movie, will it cause more confusion than clarity?

I am extremely choosy about which films I show in class. Some movies have good historical content, but for one reason or another aren’t suitable in a historical lesson.

1917-trenches

1917 checks all the boxes as great historical fiction

1917 answers all of the questions I listed above very well. One of the biggest aspects of WWI that I have to get my students to relate to is life in the trenches. 1917 constantly shows how muddy and nasty the trenches were — the rats were a good touch! The battlefield conditions were excellently displayed in the depiction of how desolate and dangerous “No Man’s Land” was. Also cool — the new technology of how airplanes were used. (It was the aerial photographs that told the general The British were walking into a trap.)

The action and pace of the movie was good. 1917 has a compelling story and it keeps you engaged. It is not just the hundreds of brother’s in arms they are trying to save, but also his real brother in the story.

1917 is historical fiction done right

In short, this movie is NOT actual history. The two main characters are a composite of the director’s actual grandfather, and his service as a message runner in WWI during The Battle of Poelcappelle.

Did it happen in the movie exactly like his Grandpa said? No, but slight embellishments that do not alter the telling of the story or the relating of the historical event are forgivable. If a student asks, I can easily explain that the characters show what the dangers of being a messenger in WWI was like.  1917 was very well done historical fiction and it earns every award that it gets!

Where was 1917 filmed?

Is there anything extra during the end credits of 1917?

Movie Review – 1917

 

Where was 1917 filmed?

Filming locations for the movie 1917 in the United KingdomThe movie 1917 was filmed in multiple locations around the United Kingdom, including: Wiltshire and Hankley Common, both in Surrey; Govan, Scotland; Low Force Waterfall on the River Tees in Teesdale; as well as Shepperton Studios, to the southwest of London.

The Govan Docks, in Scotland, were used in the scene where Schofield crossed the destroyed bridge.

1917 bridge scene shot at the Govan Docks, Scotland

The trench and French Farmhouse scenes were shot on the Salisbury Plains, in Wiltshire England.

1917 trench scenes Salisbury plains in Wiltshire England

Where did the events of 1917 actually take place?

The events of the movie 1917 all took place in the spring of 1917 in Northern France.

At this time, WWI has been raging for almost 3 years — beginning on July 28, 1914. And the war would continue for more than a year and a half after, ending on November 11, 1918. The US Armed forces joined WWI in the Spring of 1917.

Map of the Western Front during spring 1917

The German army never “retreated” but only withdrew to a better, more fortified position that also shortened the front line by 25 miles, freeing up 13 divisions for reassignment. They made their withdrawal during the cover of night, and left behind booby traps and snipers to make the Allied advancement slow and costly.

Movie Review – 1917

Is there anything extra during the end credits of 1917?