Universal Pictures has released the first trailer for 1917. This is the first directorial effort from Sam Mendes following his stint with the James Bond franchise, which included 2012’s Skyfall and 2015’s Spectre. This time, he’s sticking to action but bringing things into the real world as his latest tackles World War I. If this first footage is any indication, this could serve as a harrowing and brutal look at one of the most horrific wars in human history. And it also could be lining up for its chance at the awards season table later this year.
The trailer itself is incredibly tense and recalls elements of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, with a ticking clock setting the tone, time being of the essence. The key difference being that Dunkirk covered World War II, whereas we’re going back a bit further for this one. The actual combat footage is truly stunning in the way that war movies can often be gorgeous and terrifying, all at the same time. We also get a sense of the central mission, which will see two soldiers with a time-sensitive task that not only involves one of them very personally, but could save the lives of hundreds of men.
Outside of Sam Mendes, whose other credits include the likes of Oscar-winner American Beauty and Road to Perdition, the production didn’t skimp on the talent. George MacKay (Captain Fantastic) and Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones) will portray the two soldiers at the heart of the story. The rest of the cast includes Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Benedict Cumberbatch (Avengers: Endgame), Richard Madden (Rocketman), Andrew Scott (Fleabag), Daniel Mays (Line of Duty), Adrian Scarborough (Blunt Talk), Jamie Parker (Valkyrie), Nabhaan Rizwan (Informer) and Claire Duburcq, who is making her feature debut.
1917 takes place at the height of WWI and centers on two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman). The two are given an impossibly difficult, yet crucial mission. They must traverse enemy territory in a race against time and deliver a message that will stop an attack on hundreds of soldiers, who have no idea it’s coming, with Blake’s brother amongst them. Sam Mendes, in addition to his duties as director, wrote the screenplay with Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Penny Dreadful). Mendes also serves as a producer alongside Pippa Harris for their Neal Street Productions banner. Jayne-Ann Tenggren, Callum McDougall and Brian Oliver are also on board to produce.
The studio has set a December 25, Christmas Day, initial release in the U.S. where it will open in select cities. The movie will then open wide on January 10. This is a strategy often employed by Oscar hopefuls. We’re not saying this is for sure in line for Best Picture, but a war movie from a prestigious director with a winter release date? Don’t be surprised to hear that kind of buzz later this year. Be sure to check out the trailer for 1917 from the Universal Pictures YouTube channel for yourself.
A World War I Epic from Skyfall Director Sam Mendes