‘1917’ Was Made To Appear As One Continuous Shot

Joseph FurnessJoseph Furness in Entertainment, Film
Published 29.11.19

‘1917’ director Sam Mendes reveals the World War One film will appear as a single-shot.

Cuffing season is officially upon us, which means it’s also Winter Wonderland season and cinema season too. But because I’m not a fan of the cold,  I can’t think of anything better to do than lounge on a leather recliner with a Tango Ice Blast (listen I meant cold weather, not cold drinks) watching a five-star film.

And this winter, one of the best films to watch at the silver screen is 1917: A WW1 flick focused on two British soldiers taking on a dangerous mission to save 1,600 lives.


Sounds deep and intense; no wonder it’s an Oscar frontrunner.

After watching the above trailer, you’re probably convinced that the film is worth a watch (if not, what’s wrong with you?). However, you’ve still got one question: What makes it different from other war films?


  • It’s directed by Academy Award Winner Sam Mendes: best known for Skyfall, Spectre and American Beauty.
  • Its cinematographer is four-times BAFTA winner Roger Deakins: the guy behind the beautifulness of Blade Runner 2049 and The Shawshank Redemption
  • It’s been created to appear as a one-shot. That means 119 whole minutes of uninterrupted action.


Wait, what?

For real, the whole film plays out like one long scene.

Sam Mendes always knew making a one-shot war film was going to be difficult, but he made it clear to the whole production on day one that this is what the project would be.

Even the scripts were headed with the line: ‘This movie is designed to be one-shot’.


He adopted this challenging filmmaking technique to ensure the film kept the two soldiers at its centre, even amid the madness of the World War One setting.

He told Vanity Fair: “It was fundamentally an emotional choice. I wanted to travel every step with these men—to breathe every breath with them. It needed to be visceral and immersive. What they are asked to do is almost impossibly difficult. The way the movie is made is designed to bring you as close as possible to that experience.”

Speaking to Total Film, he added:

“There were days when you were like, ‘Why did I do this to myself?'”

He also admitted that some scenes took hundreds of shots, which lead to lengthy re-shoots.

He continued: “We got through this whole scene – five-and-a-half minutes of absolutely everything in the right place, just beautiful, and the camera operator tripped on the mattress. Total human error. And it’s like, ‘No!!!'”

Speaking to Deadline, visionary cinematographer Roger Deakin Deakin added: “The front page of 1917 was this imagined to be one continuous shot and you [say] ‘Really?’

“I was concerned it was a gimmick but it’s not a gimmick, it’s a way to get sucked into the story. Every film has a different way to tell a story and this was a particular challenge.”


Although the film stars big players such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth, it’s characters Schofield and Blake – played by George MackayKay and Dean-Charles Chapman (AKA Tommen from GOT) respectively  – that the plot focuses on.

Chapman spoke at New York Comic Con about the stress of working on a continuous shot feature film, saying: “You’d be halfway through a take and pray that nothing would go wrong and it would sometimes”. T

his was even after six months of rehearsals.


Let’s hope Chapman survives the events of this story. 

Good job there are no windows in the trenches.