‘1917’ Interview: Sam Mendes And Krysty Wilson-Cairns On Their Groundbreaking War Film

World War I doesn’t often get its due on the big screen, but Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes and writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns change that in a major way with 1917. The groundbreaking war film stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman as soldiers sent on what amounts to a suicide mission, to cross the dangerous No Man’s Land and prevent British troops from rushing into a German trap. If they fail, nearly 2000 troops will be slaughtered, including the brother of one of the two men.

Based on stories Mendes was told by his grandfather, 1917 is both intimate and sprawling, putting you there on the frontlines and into the trenches of war too big to fathom at the time. This is no ordinary story, and Mendes and Wilson-Cairns devised it to be shot in an extraordinary way. With the aid of the great cinematographer Roger Deakins, the film was shot in a  single continuous take, a grueling technique that pays off in a visceral, thrilling experience.

I had a chance to talk with Mendes and Wilson-Cairns about 1917, their decision to shoot in a single take, her apparent WWI geekdom, and the trajectory of Mendes’ directing career. He talks about starting off with his Best Picture-winning American Beauty, and the influence his experience in the James Bond franchise had in choosing 1917 as his next project.

1917 is in theaters now. You can check out my review here and listen to the interview below!

Listen to “1917: Sam Mendes And Krysty Wilson-Cairns On Their Groundbreaking War Film” on Spreaker.

Travis Hopson
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.