“Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose,” wrote English poet A.E. Housman. “But young men think it is, and we were young.”
Houseman’s poignant words appear on page two of the screenplay for “1917,” co-written by the film’s director Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, the gripping journey of two British soldiers who endeavor to save thousands of lives on foot during World War I.
Mendes, who stunned by taking the director and picture, drama trophies at Sunday’s Golden Globe awards, and Wilson-Cairns also sell the innovative conceit of their narrative on the script’s third page — which you can find below in its entirety, exclusive to Variety.
“The following script takes place in real time, and — with the exception of one moment — is written and designed to be one single continuous shot,” they advise the reader.
Mendes has spoken at length this season about his deep ties to the war, recounted to him in stories from his grandfather Alfred Mendes. Earlier this week, Variety‘s Tim Gray underscored this emotional link that has taken a back seat to the film’s stunning visuals, courtesy of famed cinematographer Roger Deakins.
Wilson-Cairns hit the road in service of the script, flying to a French battleground.
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“When I was there, I realized something I had read but never understood: that men died so their country could gain inches, just inches of land,” she told Variety.
“1917,” from Universal Pictures and Amblin Partners, boasts a starry but subtle ensemble cast lead by upstarts George MacKay (whose breakout came in the Cannes darling “Captain Fantastic”) and Dean-Charles Chapman. Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden and Andrew Scott also appear.
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