Oscars 2020: '1917' director Sam Mendes happy with reaction to film

Reuters Los Angeles Jan 30, 2020, 09.00 AM(IST)

'James Bond' director Sam Mendes returns with tense war film '1917' Photograph:( Twitter )

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The movie based on WWI, '1917' is nominated for ten Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Sam Mendes.

Ahead of the Academy Awards on February 9 the team from '1917' reflect on epic takes, being covered in mud and their award season journey.

World War One movie '1917' is nominated for ten Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Sam Mendes. So far this season, Mendes - who won an Oscar in 2000 for 'American Beauty' - has picked up prizes including a Golden Globe for Best Director - Motion Picture and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film at the Directors Guild Awards.

Speaking at the DGAs Mendes said he's been 'thrilled' with the reaction to his movie: 'It's a big, ambitious film, it doesn't have big movie stars in the leads. And its war, it is a war that is over 100 years old. So, for me, I am absolutely thrilled with how it has gone.' This is why we think Sam Mendes' '1917' is front runner for Oscars Best Film

Sentiments echoed by his two lead actor George Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman, who are both excited to be heading to the Oscars for the first time. Read the film's review here.

MacKay and Chapman star as two young British soldiers who are tasked with crossing enemy lines to stop another battalion from launching an imminent attack on what appears to be retreating German troops but is really a trap. Oscar nominated film '1917' has been backed by India's Reliance Entertainment

Inspired by Mendes' grandfather's experiences on the frontlines of World War One, Mendes co-wrote the piece with screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Wilson-Cairns, who is nominated along with Mendes for Best Original Screenplay, said working on the movie was a dream come true, and part of the research took her to the battlefields in France:

''I was always fascinated by the two world wars I was a weird nerdy kid …I went and read first-hand accounts … I went to France I walked the route the boys would talk in the film.''

Made to look as if it is one continuous shot, the drama, set during a single day in April 1917, aims to tell the story in real-time - which meant super-long and detailed takes for the cast.

''We didn't have the option to say well, that part of the takes really good if we did a cutaway here we could use it you know if one of our takes .. if one went down you know like even 20 seconds before the end the shot you had to go all the way back to the front and start again,' cinematographer Roger Deakins explained.

Oscar-winner Deakins, who is nominated for Best Cinematographer, said there were high fives on set when Mendes was happy with a take.

Before they got to set a lot of prep was needed in advance for cast and crew, Chapman and MacKay rehearsed every scene on location for months.

'Well it's unlike any other job that we have ever done before .. that it's extraordinary the amount of rehearsal time, we rehearsed for 6 months,' said MacKay, explaining having everyone together for months before shooting a drama film is something he has never experienced before.

Meanwhile when they were on set it proved a dirty experience. 'There were times like in no mans land for continuity we'd have to literally sit in the mud ..just to get the mud exact,' Chapman told Reuters.

The 92nd Academy Awards are due to take place in Los Angeles on February 9, 2020.

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