Directed by Sam Mendes
HOME, 16 January 2020
An involving, exciting dramatic film though not entirely realistic.
We are in the First World War and two soldiers, Schofield (Andrew Scott) and Blake (Richard Madden), are sent on a mission that has little hope of success. They have to warn that a planned imminent offensive is, in fact, a trap and should be called off. To do this they must trek through a ravaged, desolate landscape of putrid mud and barbed wire, ruined buildings and rotting corpses. Some of the cinematography here (and the whole setting, actually) reminded me very strongly of Stalker, Tarkovsky’s great film. In other respects the story was familiar enough – a tale of derring-do, but undeniably well done.
There are fantastic performances from cast, especially Andrew Scott. The Germans here are wholly without honour, which is surprising: I thought the film would be more even handed. The common British soldiers are thooroughly decent and some of the officers, though not all, are decent chaps too. It was good to see some black faces and a turbaned fellow as well. Certain EU-funded films, above all Frantz, present the First World War as a European war which shows the dangers of nationalism. This way lies the suicide of Europe, all that. Whilst in fact it was a world war and, moreover, a war of empires, not nation states.
A terrific war film, with the odd mythic allusion (to the Lethe, etc.) thrown in.