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Starring: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
War drama directed and co-written by Sam Mendes. 1917 follows two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), at the height of the First World War, who are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers, Blake’s own brother (Richard Madden) among them.
Our Favorite Quotes:'Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone.' - General Erinmore (1917) Click To Tweet 'I hoped today might be a good day. Hope is a dangerous thing.' - Colonel MacKenzie (1917) Click To Tweet
Sergeant Sanders: [we see Blake and Schofield sleeping under a tree] Blake. Blake!
LCpl Blake: [Sanders lightly kicks Blake to wake him] Sorry, Sarge.
Sergeant Sanders: Pick a man. Bring your kit.
LCpl Blake: Yes, Sarge.
Sergeant Sanders: Don’t dawdle.
LCpl Blake: No, Sarge.
Lance Corporal Blake: [to Schofield] I’m bloody starving, aren’t you? I thought we might get some decent grub out here. It was the only reason I decided against the priesthood.
LCpl Blake: What you got there?
LCpl Schofield: Ham and bread.
LCpl Blake: Where did you find that?
LCpl Schofield: [he offers some to Blake] I have my uses. Here.
LCpl Blake: Tastes like old shoe.
LCpl Schofield: Cheer up. This time next week it’ll be chicken dinner.
LCpl Blake: Not me. My leave got cancelled.
LCpl Schofield: They say why?
LCpl Blake: No idea.
LCpl Schofield: It’s easier not to go back at all.
Sergeant Sanders: In your own time, gentlemen.
LCpl Blake: Is there any news, Sarge?
Sergeant Sanders: News of what?
LCpl Blake: The big push. It was supposed to happen weeks ago. They told us we’d be home by Christmas.
Sergeant Sanders: Yes, well, sorry to disrupt your crowded schedule, Blake, but the Brass Hats didn’t fancy it in the snow.
LCpl Blake: More’s the pity, Sarge, I could’ve done with some turkey.
Sergeant Sanders: Well, I’ll make sure to relay your displeasure to command.
Sergeant Sanders: Now listen, Erinmore is inside, so tidy yourselves up. Never know, might be mentions in dispatches for this one, if you don’t bugger it up.
LCpl Blake: [to Schofield] Must be something big if the General’s here.
General Erinmore: Which one of you is Blake?
LCpl Blake: Sir.
General Erinmore: You have a brother, a Lieutenant in the 2nd Devons?
LCpl Blake: Yes, sir. Joseph Blake, is he…?
General Erinmore: Alive, as far as I know. And with your help I’d like to keep it that way.
General Erinmore: [showing them on the map] Come round here, gentlemen. Three miles deep, field fortifications, defences, artillery, the like of which we’ve never seen before. The 2nd are due to attack the line shortly after dawn tomorrow. They have no idea what they’re in for. And we can’t warn them. As a parting gift, the enemy cut all our telephone lines. Your orders are to get to the 2nd at Croisilles Wood, one mile south east of the town of Ecoust.
General Erinmore: [gives Blake the papers containing the orders] Deliver this to Colonel MacKenzie. It is a direct order to call off tomorrow morning’s attack. If you don’t, it will be a massacre. We will lose two battalions. Sixteen hundred men, your brother among them. You think you can get there in time?
LCpl Blake: Yes, sir.
General Erinmore: Any questions?
LCpl Blake: No, sir.
General Erinmore: Good.
LCpl Schofield: Sir, is it just us?
General Erinmore: “Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone.” Wouldn’t you say, Lieutenant?
Lieutenant Gordon: Yes, sir. I would.
General Erinmore: Good luck.
LCpl Schofield: [after leaving Erinmore’s quarters to start their mission] Blake, let’s talk about this for a minute.
LCpl Blake: Why?
LCpl Schofield: [Blake heads off through the trenches] Blake! We just need to think about it.
LCpl Blake: There’s nothing to think about. He’s my big brother.
LCpl Schofield: [as they are walking through the trenches] We should at least wait until it’s dark.
LCpl Blake: Erinmore said to leave immediately.
LCpl Schofield: Erinmore’s never seen No Man’s Land. We won’t make it ten yards. If we just wait.
LCpl Blake: You heard him. He said the Boche have gone.
LCpl Schofield: Is that why he gave us grenades?
LCpl Schofield: All I’m saying is that we wait.
LCpl Blake: Yes, you would say that, because it’s not your brother, is it?
LCpl Schofield: Look, the last time I was told the Germans were gone, it didn’t end well. You don’t know, Blake. You weren’t there.
LCpl Schofield: Blake, if we’re not clever about this, no one will get to your brother.
LCpl Blake: I will.
LCpl Blake: [after finding Leslie] Sir? Lieutenant Leslie, sir?
Lieutenant Leslie: What is it?
LCpl Blake: We have a message from General Erinmore.
Lieutenant Leslie: Are you our relief?
LCpl Blake: No, sir.
Lieutenant Leslie: Then, when the f***ing hell are they due?
LCpl Blake: We don’t know, sir. But we’ve got orders to cross here.
Lieutenant Leslie: That is the German front line.
LCpl Blake: We know, sir.
Lieutenant Leslie: Settle a bet. What day is it?
LCpl Schofield: Friday.
Lieutenant Leslie: Friday? Well, well, well. None of us was right. This idiot thought it was Tuesday.
Lieutenant Leslie: [after reading Erinmore’s orders] Are they out of their f***ing minds? One slow night, and the brass think the Hun have just gone home.
LCpl Schofield: Do you think they’re wrong, sir?
Lieutenant Leslie: We lost an officer and three men two nights ago. They were shot to bits patching up wire. We dragged two of them back here. Needn’t have bothered.
LCpl Blake: Sir, the General is sure the enemy have withdrawn. There are aerials of the new line…
Lieutenant Leslie: Shut up! We’ve fought and died over every inch of this f***ing place, now they suddenly give us miles? It’s a trap. But chin up. There’s a medal in it, for sure. Nothing like a scrap of ribbon to cheer up a widow.
Lieutenant Leslie: [to Blake and Schofield] If you do get shot, try to make it back to the wire. We won’t come after you, not until it’s dark. And, if by some f***ing miracle you do make it, send up a flare.
Lieutenant Leslie: [splashes some liquor over Blake and Schofield in imitation of holy water] “Through this holy unction, may the Lord pardon you your faults, and whatever sins thou hast committed.”
Lieutenant Leslie: [gives them a flare gun] I do hate losing these to the Hun. So, when they start shooting at you, could you be so kind as to throw it back, there’s a good chap. Cheerio.
LCpl Schofield: [as they are about to climb out of the trenches and go through the battlefields] You sure?
LCpl Blake: Yes.
LCpl Schofield: [stops Blake] Age before beauty.
[Schofield goes first]
LCpl Blake: [as they arrive at an abandoned German trench] Your hand alright?
LCpl Schofield: Put it through an effing German.
LCpl Blake: Patch it up. You’ll be wanking again in no time.
LCpl Schofield: Wrong hand.
LCpl Blake: [in the underground German barracks and find it crawling with rats] Bloody hell! Even their rats are bigger than ours.
LCpl Blake: [after the rat triggers tripwires in the German barracks to explode] The whole thing’s coming down.
LCpl Blake: You keep hold of me! We need to keep moving. Come on!
LCpl Schofield: I can’t see. I can’t see!
LCpl Blake: Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop. It’s a mineshaft! We’ll have to jump. Come on! You’re going to have to jump! Just jump.
LCpl Schofield: I can’t! I can’t see!
LCpl Blake: [Schofield jumps and makes it to Blake] You need to trust me! Jump! Don’t let go of me! Don’t let go! Light! There’s light!
[they finally make it out of the tunnel barracks]
LCpl Blake: [after making it out of the exploding tunnel barracks] I wish I’d shot that rat now.
LCpl Schofield: I wish you’d picked some other bloody idiot.
LCpl Blake: What?
LCpl Schofield: Why in God’s name did you have to choose me?
LCpl Blake: Well I didn’t know what I was picking you for.
LCpl Schofield: No, you didn’t. You never know. That’s your problem.
LCpl Blake: Alright then, go back. Nothing’s stopping you. You can go all the way bloody home if you want.
LCpl Blake: I didn’t know what I was picking you for. I thought they were going to send us back up the line, or for food, or something. I thought it was going to be something easy, alright? I never thought it would be this. So do you want to go back?
LCpl Schofield: Just fire the f***ing flare.
LCpl Blake: Hey, did you hear that story about Wilko? How he lost his ear?
LCpl Schofield: I’m not in the mood. Keep your eyes on the trees, top of the ridge.
LCpl Blake: I bet he told you it was shrapnel.
LCpl Schofield: What was it then?
LCpl Blake: Well, you know his girl’s a hairdresser, right? And he was moaning about the lack of bathing facilities when he wrote to her. Remember those rancid Jakes at Arras?
LCpl Schofield: Yeah.
LCpl Blake: Anyway, she sends him over this hair oil. Smells sweet, like Golden Syrup. Wilko loves the smell, but he doesn’t want to cart it around in his pack. So, he slathers it all over his barnet, goes to sleep. And in the middle of the night he wakes up, and a rat is sitting on his shoulder licking the oil off of his head. Wilko panics, and he jumps up, and when he does, the rat bites clean through his f***ing ear and runs off with it! Oh, he made a hell of a fuss, yelling, screaming. The best of it was, he’d put so much bloody oil on himself that he couldn’t wash it off! He was like a magnet. Rats left us alone, but they couldn’t get enough of him. Poor b****rd.
LCpl Schofield: [referring to his medal] I swapped it with a French captain.
LCpl Blake: You swapped it? For what?
LCpl Schofield: Bottle of wine.
LCpl Blake: What did you do that for?
LCpl Schofield: I was thirsty.
LCpl Blake: What a waste. You should’ve taken it home with you. You should’ve given it to your family. Men have died for that.
LCpl Blake: If I got a medal, I’d take it back home. Why didn’t you just take it home with you?
LCpl Schofield: Look, it’s just a bit of bloody tin. It doesn’t make you special. It doesn’t make any difference to anyone.
LCpl Blake: Yes, it does. And it’s not just a bit of tin. It’s got a ribbon on it.
LCpl Schofield: I hated going home. I hated it. When I knew I couldn’t stay. When I knew I had to leave, and they might never see me.
LCpl Blake: [referring to the planes in the sky, one of which is the German one they saw earlier] Is that our friends again?
LCpl Schofield: Looks like it. Dogfight.
LCpl Blake: Who’s winning?
LCpl Schofield: Us, I think. Two on one. They got him.
[they watch the German plane plunge down]
LCpl Blake: [after Schofield kills the German pilot for stabbing Blake] Let me sit.
LCpl Schofield: No, we can’t. We have to find the 2nd, remember? Your brother. We have to go now.
LCpl Blake: You can start on without me. I’ll catch up.
LCpl Schofield: You can’t stay here. We have to move, alright? We have to move. Come on. Come on! Come on. That’s it. Come on. Come on.
LCpl Schofield: Your brother. We have to find your brother.
LCpl Blake: You’ll recognize him. He looks like me, and he’s a bit older.
LCpl Blake: What was it?
Cpl Schofield: You were stabbed.
LCpl Blake: Am I dying?
Cpl Schofield: Yes. Yes. I think you are.
LCpl Blake: [Schofield comforts him as he dies] Will you write to my mum for me?
LCpl Schofield: I will.
LCpl Blake: Tell her I wasn’t scared.
LCpl Schofield: Anything else?
LCpl Blake: I love them.
LCpl Schofield: I’ll find the 2nd. I’ll give them the message. And then I’ll find your brother. Just like you, a little older.
[Blake dies in his arms]
Captain Smith: [referring to Blake’s death] I’m sorry about your friend. May I tell you something that you probably already know? It doesn’t do to dwell on it.
LCpl Schofield: No, sir.
Private Cooke: [to Schofield] Good luck, guv. Don’t balls it up.
Captain Smith: If you do manage to get to Colonel MacKenzie, make sure there are witnesses.
LCpl Schofield: They are direct orders, sir.
Captain Smith: I know. But some men just want the fight.
LCpl Schofield: Thank you, sir.
LCpl Schofield: [stumbles into a cellar, where a French woman is hiding with a baby girl] What is her name?
Lauri: [in French] I don’ know.
LCpl Schofield: Who is her mother?
Lauri: [in French] I don’ know.
LCpl Schofield: [whilst trying to comformt the French baby girl and Lauri] “They went to sea in a Sieve, they did. In a Sieve they went to sea. In spite of all their friends could say. On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day. In a Sieve they went to sea. Far and few, far and few, are the lands where the Jumblies live. Their heads are green, and their hands are blue. And they went to sea in a Sieve.”
LCpl Schofield: [after he reaches the 2nd Devons just before the attack begins] Sir, I have a message from General Erinmore!
Lieutenant Hutton: Who the f*** are you?
LCpl Schofield: The attack has been called off. General Erinmore has called off the attack.
Lieutenant Hutton: Balls, man. We’re about to go over. We’ve got them on the run!
LCpl Schofield: You don’t! Please. Don’t send your men over.
Lieutenant Hutton: Get out of the way, Corporal!
LCpl Schofield: These are direct orders from Army Command! Where is the Colonel MacKenzie?!
Lieutenant Hutton: Jesus Christ, man! Go and see the Captain!
Lieutenant Hutton: [as Schofield plans to sprints across the battlefield to get to MacKenzie] You can’t possibly make it that way man, are you bloody insane? What the hell are you doing, Lance Corporal?
Lieutenant Hutton: [as Schofield starts runnng across the battlefield] No! No! No!
Orderly Byrne: [as Schofield is trying to make his way to meet MacKenzie] What the hell do you think you’re doing?
LCpl Schofield: I have to see Colonel MacKenzie!
Orderly Byrne: What are you doing?!
LCpl Schofield: I have to stop this attack!
LCpl Schofield: [after he finally reaches MacKenzie] Colonel MacKenzie! This attack is not to go ahead! You have been ordered to stop. You have to stop!
Colonel MacKenzie: Who the hell are you?
LCpl Schofield: Lance Corporal Schofield, sir. 8th. I have orders from General Erinmore to call off this attack.
Colonel MacKenzie: You’re too late, Lance Corporal.
LCpl Schofield: Sir, these orders are from Army Command. You have to read them.
Major Hepburn: Shall we hold back the second wave, sir?
Colonel MacKenzie: No, Major. Hesitate now and we lose. Victory is only five yards away.
LCpl Schofield: Sir, please read the letter!
Colonel MacKenzie: I have heard it all before. I’m not going to wait until dusk, or for fog. I’m not calling back my men, only to send them out there again tomorrow. Not when we’ve got the b****rds on the run. This is their last stand.
LCpl Schofield: The German’s planned this, sir. They’ve been planning it for months. They want you to attack. Read the letter.
Colonel MacKenzie: [finally reads the letter] Major.
Major Hepburn: Yes, Sir.
Colonel MacKenzie: Stand them down.
Colonel MacKenzie: [to Schofield after the attack is called off] I hoped today might be a good day. Hope is a dangerous thing. That’s it for now, then next week, Command will send a different message. Attack at dawn.
Colonel MacKenzie: [to Schofield] There is only one way this war ends. Last man standing.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: [after finding Blake’s brother] Well, what the hell are you doing here?
LCpl Schofield: I was sent here to deliver a message.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: The 8th? You must know my brother.
LCpl Schofield: I was sent here with him.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Tom’s here? Where is he?
LCpl Schofield: [as Joseph realizes what happened to Blake] It was very quick. I’m sorry.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: [after Schofield gives him Blake’s belongings] What’s your name?
LCpl Schofield: Schofield, sir.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: [visibly emotional as he holds Blake’s belongings] I’m sorry, what?
LCpl Schofield: It’s Schofield, sir. William Schofield. Will.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Well, you need some food. Get yourself to the mess tent.
LCpl Schofield: If I may, I’d like to write to your mother. Tell her that Tom wasn’t alone.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Of course.
LCpl Schofield: He was a good man. Always telling funny stories. He saved my life.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Well, I am glad you were with him. Thank you, Will.
[Schofield then sits under a tree, looks at photos of his wife and children, one with the message “Come back to us”, then closes his eyes]
'There is only one way this war ends. Last man standing.' - Colonel MacKenzie (1917) Click To Tweet
Bring a witness; some men like to fight – what was that line again?
Maybe because if no one else had been around when receiving the letter, the man would have ignored the orders and just continue with the revenge.
Jayden Lemasters says
What was the quote it was like A siv to see is a see to siv? or something like that.
It was a limerick by Edward Lear back in 1800’s.
hey went to sea in a sieve they did; In a sieve they went to sea: In spite of all their friends could say. On a winter’s morn on a stormy day. In a sieve they went to sea. And when the sieve turned round and round. And every one cried “You’ll all be drowned!”.
Leslie Jackowski says
What was the little poem the officer quoted about why they must deliver the message alone?
Paul Cryan says
From Kipling : “Down to Gehenna or up to the throne He travels the fastest who travels alone”
Thank you, was looking for it everywhere. What a beautiful use of the poem…
What did Lance Corporal Schofield say to Corporal Blake’s brother when he found him? His brother said ” you must know my brother?” I missed what Schofield then said.
Max Hechtman says
Col. Mackenzie’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) “There’s only one way this war ends. Last man standing.” line has just become the film’s most memorable out of all of these and will be one of the most well-known movie quotes of 21st century cinema by the time this masterpiece wins its awards and is seen by audiences everywhere this weekend.