Watching 1917

No pub these days, no restaurants, I can’t even sit in a cafe and, of course, it’s impossible to go to the movies. So, you make your own entertainment.

In that regard at least I’m pretty well set up. I was busy Saturday and got a lot of things done, and the reward at the end of it was a couple of hours lounging on the couch watching a top-notch film.

Like a lot of people, I’m particular when it comes to watching serious entertainment. All the lights are off, and the TV’s hooked up to my Sonos set-up, making the dialogue crisp and clear, and the audio highlights mighty. On top of that, the picture on my German TV is as good as you’ll get.

This time I watched 1917, the big British war movie that came out late last year. I’ve been saving it for the metaphorical rainy day, or pandemic, whatever came first. As it happens they aligned nicely on Saturday.

Gee, I enjoyed this. It’s vivid and stirring, and it races along. It’s a compelling storyline, much more of a quest movie than the conventional war movie is. It had plenty of scenes of battle and ruin and death, and they were particularly well done – much more brutally realistic than you’re used to seeing. It’s raw and real – but there is a mission to complete that impels the story line forward. The clock is ticking, and 1600 lives depend on it, but to be successful, the heroes must overcome adversity and confusion and temptation, not to mention exhaustion ad thousands of German soldiers.

I’m probably imagining this, but it echoed for me The Odyssey, by Homer, with similar episodic asides, even including the sirens – in this case a single French girl with a baby beseeching the protagonist not to leave. And the protagonists suffers many adventures and encounters strange and unexpected scenes. In parts it’s otherworldly.

It’s beautiful to look at. Some of the scenes portrayed are almost artistic, particularly the French town at night, half of it ablaze and flares popping off overhead. It adds to the surreal motif.

I was rapt in this. I wondered what was coming next and couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It had that strange quality to it, but it also felt utterly real – as if war itself is a strange and terrible beast, and this is how it is.


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