1917 (2019 film)

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"It is a direct order to call off tomorrow morning's attack. If you don't, it will be a massacre. We will lose two battalions, sixteen hundred men, your brother among them. Do you think you can get there in time?"
"Yes, sir."

1917 is a 2019 film about two young British soldiers during the First World War who are given a mission to deliver a message in enemy territory.

Directed by Sam Mendes. Written by Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns.
Time is the enemy.  (taglines)
"Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne
He travels the fastest who travels alone."
"Corporal, if you do manage to get to Colonel Mackenzie, make sure there are witnesses."
"They are direct orders, sir."
"I know. But some men just want the fight."
"I'm sorry about your friend. May I tell you something that you probably already know? It doesn't do to dwell on it."
"No, sir."
I hoped today might be a good day. Hope is a very dangerous thing.

Colonel Mackenzie[edit]

  • Hesitate now and we lose. Victory's only five hundred yards away.
  • I hoped today might be a good day. Hope is a dangerous thing.
  • There is only one way this war ends: Last man standing.
  • Have someone tend to your wounds...Now fuck off, Lance Corporal.


  • [Sprinkles Blake and Schofield with the whisky in his flask] Through this holy unction, may the Lord pardon you your faults and whatever sins thou has committed. [Gives the two soldiers a flare gun] I do hate losing these to the Hun. So, when they start shooting at you, could you be so kind as to throw it back? There's a good chap. Cheerio.
    • Lieutenant Leslie
  • You mustn't slow down. If the man next to you falls, keep moving! Your orders are to break the line!
    • Sergeant Gardner, prior to the final attack


Blake: You get anything?
Schofield: No.
Blake: I'm bloody starvin', aren't you? I thought we might get some decent grub out here. It was the only reason I decided against the priesthood. What have you got there?
Schofield: Ham and bread.
Blake: Where did you find that?
Schofield: I have my uses. Here. [hands Blake a chunk of bread]
Blake: [chewing] Ugh, tastes like old shoe.
Schofield: Cheer up. This time next it'll be chicken dinner.
Blake: Not me. Leave got cancelled.
Schofield: They say why?
Blake: No idea.
Schofield: It's easier not to go back at all.
[A group of soldiers crosses their path]
Blake: Something's up. Did you hear anything?
Schofield: No.
Blake: Has to be the push, right? Ten bob says we're going up.
Schofield: I'm not taking that bet.
Blake: Why? 'Cause you know I'm right?
Schofield: No, because you haven't got ten bob.

Blake: Is there any news, Sarge?
Sergeant Sanders: News of what
Blake: The big push. It was supposed to happen weeks ago. They told us we'd be home by Christmas.
Sergeant Sanders: Yes, well, sorry to disrupt your crowded schedule, Blake, but the Brass Hats didn't fancy it in the snow.
Blake: More's the pity, Sarge. I could have done with some turkey.
Sergeant Sanders: Well, I'll be sure to relay your displeasure to Command.
Blake: So, what's on the cards then, Sergeant?
Sergeant Sanders: The Hun are up to something.
Blake: Any idea what?
Sergeant Sanders: No, but it's about to ruin our weekend. [Sanders stops in front of a dugout entrance and turns around to face Blake and Schofield] Now, listen. Erinmore is inside, so tidy yourselves up. Never know. Might be mentions in dispatches for this one... if you don't bugger it up.

Sergeant Sanders: Lance Corporals Blake and Schofield, sir.
General Erinmore: Which one of you is Blake?
Blake: Sir.
General Erinmore: You have a brother, a lieutenant in the Second Devons?
Blake: Yes, sir. Joseph Blake; is he--?
General Erinmore: Alive. As far as I know. And with your help, I'd like to keep it that way. Sanders tells me you're good with maps. That true?
Blake: Good enough, sir.
General Erinmore: So... [indicates the British position on map] We are here. The Second Devons are advancing here. [indicates an 'X' on map] How long will it take you to get there?
Blake: [confused] I don't understand, sir.
Schofield: Sir, that land is held by the Germans.
General Erinmore: Germans have gone. Don't get your hopes up. It appears to be a strategic withdrawal. They seem to have created a new line, nine miles back here by the look of it. Colonel Mackenzie is in command of the Second. He sent word yesterday morning he was going after the retreating Germans. He is convinced he has them on the run, that if he can break their lines now, he will turn the tide. He is wrong. Colonel Mackenzie has not seen these aerials of the enemy's new line. Come around here, gentlemen.
[Erinmore gestures Blake and Schofield to another table overlaid with aerial photographs of the new German line]
General Erinmore: Three miles deep, field fortifications, defenses, artillery the like of which we've never seen before. The Second are due to attack the line shortly after dawn tomorrow. They have no idea what they're in for. And we can't warn them; as a parting gift, the enemy cut all our telephone lines. Your orders are to get to the Second at Croisilles Wood, one mile southeast of the town of Écoust. Deliver this to Colonel Mackenzie. [hands Blake a sealed envelope] It is a direct order to call off tomorrow morning's attack. If you don't, it will be a massacre. We will lose two battalions, sixteen hundred men, your brother among them. Do you think you can get there in time?
Blake: Yes, sir.
General Erinmore: Any questions?
Blake: No, sir.
General Erinmore: Good. [to Lieutenant Gordon] Over to you, Lieutenant.
[Blake and Schofield salute and join Lieutenant Gordon at the supply table]
Lieutenant Gordon: Supplies, gentlemen. Maps, torches, grenades and, uh... a couple of little treats. [Blake and Schofield begin gathering supplies] Leave immediately, take this trench west, up on Sauchiehall Street, then northwest on Paradise Alley at the front. Continue along the front line until you find the Yorks. Give this note to Major Stevenson. [hands Blake a note] He's holding the line at the shortest span of no man's land. You'll cross there.
Schofield: It'll be daylight, sir. They'll see us.
General Erinmore: No need to be concerned. You should meet no resistance.
Blake: Sir, is-- is it just us?
General Erinmore: "Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne / He travels the fastest who travels alone." Wouldn't you say, Lieutenant?
Lieutenant Gordon: Yes, sir, I would.
General Erinmore: Good luck.

Blake: Sir? Lieutenant Leslie, sir?
Lieutenant Leslie: [half asleep] What is it?
Blake: We have a message from General Erinmore.
Lieutenant Leslie: Are you our relief?
Blake: No, sir.
Lieutenant Leslie: Then when the fucking hell are they due?
Blake: We don't know, sir, but we've got orders to cross here.
Lieutenant Leslie: That is the German front line.
Blake: We know, sir. If you'll just take the letter. [hands Leslie the note from Erinmore]
Lieutenant Leslie: Settle a bet. What day is it?
Blake: Friday.
Lieutenant Leslie: Friday. Well, well, well. None of us was right. [indicates soldier] This idiot thought it was Tuesday.
Soldier: Sorry, sir.
Lieutenant Leslie: [reading the note] Are they out of their fucking minds? One slow night, the brass think the Hun have just gone home?
Schofield: Do you think they're wrong, sir?
Lieutenant Leslie: We lost an officer and three men two nights ago. They were shot to bits patching up wire. We dragged two of them back here. Needn't have bothered--
Blake: Sir, the General is sure the enemy have withdrawn. There are aerials of the new line that–-
Lieutenant Leslie: [exasperated] Shut up! We've fought and died over every inch of this fucking place! Now they suddenly give us miles? It's a trap! [pause] But chin up, there's a medal in it for sure. Nothing like a scrap of ribbon to cheer up a widow.

Blake: Your hand alright?
Schofield: Put it through an effing German.
Blake: Patch it up. You'll be wanking again in no time.
Schofield: Wrong hand.

[Blake and Schofield have just narrowly escaped from a collapsing German bunker]
Schofield: [pouring water from his canteen on his face] Dust... so much dust in my eyes!
Blake: [hands Schofield his canteen] Here. Have some of mine. I wish I'd shot that rat now.
Schofield: And I wish you'd picked some other bloody idiot.
Blake: What?
Schofield: Why in God's name did you have to choose me?
Blake: Well, I didn't know what I was picking you for.
Schofield: No, you didn't. You never know. That's your problem.
Blake: Alright then, go back. Nothing's stopping you. You can go all the bloody way home if you want.
Schofield: [sharply] Don't. Just don't.
Blake: Look, I didn't know what I was picking you for. I thought they were going to send us back up the line, or for food or something. I thought it was going to be easy, alright? I never thought it would be this. [pulls out flare gun] So, do you want to go back?
Schofield: Just fire the fucking flare.
Blake: Up yours, Lieutenant. [fires flare]

Blake: Hey, did you hear that story about Wilko? How he lost his ear?
Schofield: I'm not in the mood. Keep your eyes on the trees, top of the ridge.
Blake: Bet he told you it was shrapnel.
Schofield: What was it then?
Blake: Well, you know his girl's a hairdresser, right? And he was moaning about the lack of bathing facilities when he wrote to her. Remember those rancid jakes at Arras?
Schofield: Yeah.
Blake: Anyway, she sends him over this hair oil. Smells sweet, like Golden Syrup. Wilko loves the smell, but he doesn't want to cart it around in his pack. So, he slathers it all over his barnet, goes to sleep and in the middle of the night he wakes up, and a rat is sitting on his shoulder licking the oil off his head! [Schofield laughs] Wilko panics, and he jumps up, and when he does, the rat bites clean through his fucking ear and runs off with it!
Schofield: [laughing] No!
Blake: He made a hell of a fuss, yellin', screamin'; the best part of it was, he put so much bloody oil on himself that he couldn't wash it off! He was like a magnet! Rats left us alone, but they couldn't get enough of him. Poor bastard.

Schofield: Well, that's your medal sorted, then.
Blake: What do you mean?
Schofield: "Lance Corporal Blake showed unusual valour rescuing a comrade from certain death", blah, blah, blah.
Blake: You reckon?
Schofield: I do.
Blake: Well, that'd be nice, since you lost yours.
Schofield: I didn't lose mine.
Blake: What happened to it, then?
Schofield: Why do you care?
Blake: Why do you not?
Schofield: I swapped it with a French captain.
Blake: Swapped it?!
Schofield: Mm-hmm.
Blake: For what?
Schofield: Bottle of wine.
Blake: Well, what did you do that for?!
Schofield: I was thirsty.
Blake: What a waste. You should have taken it home with you, you should have given it to your family. Men have died for that. If I got a medal, I'd take it back home; why didn't you just take it home--?
Schofield: Look, it's just a bit of bloody tin! It doesn't make you special. It doesn't make any difference to anyone.
Blake: Yes, it does. And it's not just a bit of tin. It's got a ribbon on it.
[Schofield pauses and turns back to face Blake]
Schofield: I hated going home. I hated it. When I knew I couldn't stay, when I knew I had to leave and they might never see-- [he chokes up, pauses, and walks off]

[Blake has been stabbed by any injured German pilot, Schofield shoots the pilot dead and rushes to Blake's aid]
Blake: You bastard! You bloody bastard! [he opens his coat to see blood seeping profusely through his shirt from his stab wound] Oh, God, no. Oh, God, no! [he collapses, groaning in shock] Jesus. Jesus, no!
Schofield: We have to stop the bleeding. [presses a cloth on Blake's wound]
Blake: [screams in pain] Stop, stop it! Stop it!
Schofield: It's alright, it's going to be alright. We're going to stand up.
Blake: Yes.
Schofield: Right. [he tries to pull Blake to his feet]
Blake: No, I can't, I can't! Ow!
Schofield: We have to get to an aid post.
Blake: I can't!
Schofield: I'll carry you. It isn't very far.
Blake: Just bring a doctor here.
Schofield: We can't. We have to go together. We're going to get up. We're going to get up. [he tries to drag Blake]
Blake: Stop!
Schofield: Come on.
Blake: Please stop! [kicking in pain] Put me down! Put me down, you bastard, please! Put me down!
[Schofield lays Blake down on the ground as he continues groaning in pain]
Schofield: You have to try to keep moving.
Blake: Let's just sit. Let me sit.
Schofield: [trying to stop the bleeding again] No, we can't. We have to find the Second, remember? Your brother. We have to go now.
Blake: You can start on without me, I'll catch up.
Schofield: You can't stay here. We have to move, alright? We have to move, now come on. Come on! Come on, that's it. Come on, come on. Come on. [he tries to pick up Blake once more, who screams in pain, Schofield sets him back down again] Your brother! We have to find your brother.
Blake: You'll recognize him. He looks like me, and... he's a bit older.
[A burning beam from the barn crashes to the ground behind them, and embers start drifting through the air as Schofield cradles Blake in his lap]
Blake: [weakly] What are they? Are we being shelled?
Schofield: They're embers. The barn is on fire.
Blake: I've been hit. What was it?
Schofield: You were stabbed.
Blake: [whimpers] Am I dying?
Schofield: [pause] Yes. Yes, I think you are. [Blake reaches into his coat pocket and hands Schofield a leather pouch] This?
Blake: Inside. [Schofield pulls out a photograph of Blake's mother and hands it to him] Will you write to my mum for me?
Schofield: I will.
Blake: Tell her I wasn't scared.
Schofield: Anything else?
Blake: I love them. I wish that... I wish... Talk to me. Tell me you know the way.
Schofield: I know the way. I'm going to head southeast until I hit Écoust. I'll pass through the town and out to the east, all the way to Croisilles Wood.
Blake: It'll be dark by then.
Schofield: That won't bother me. I'll find the Second, I'll give them the message, and then I'll find your brother. Just like you, a little bit older... [he stops as he realizes Blake is dead]

Schofield: How did you get here, sir?
Captain Smith: Crossed no man's land just outside Bapaume. Took us the whole night. Bumped into a couple of Hun stragglers on the way who made a nuisance of themselves.
Schofield: You going up to the new line?
Captain Smith: Attempting to. The Newfoundlands have pushed forwards and requested reinforcements. I'm sorry about your friend. May I tell you something that you probably already know? It doesn't do to dwell on it.
Schofield: No, sir.

Sepoy Jondalar: So, where are you going?
Schofield: I have to get to the Second Devons, just past Écoust.
Sepoy Jondalar: Why?
Schofield: They're attacking at dawn. I have to stop them.
Private Malky: How come?
Schofield: They're walking into a trap.
Private Cooke: How many?
Schofield: Sixteen hundred.
Private Cooke: Jesus.
Private Butler: Why did they send you on your own?
Schofield: They didn't. There were two of us.
Private Rossi: So now it's down to you.
Schofield: Yes.
Private Cooke: You'll never make it.
Schofield: Yes, I will. [Butler hands him a bottle of whisky] Thank you.
Privatve Rossi: [noticing dead cattle in the fields] Look at it. Fucking look at it. Three years fightin' over this. We should've just let the bastards keep it. I mean, who machine guns cows?
Private Malky: Huns with extra bullets.
Privatve Rossi: Bastards.
Sepoy Jondalar: Clever. They know if they don't shoot the cow, you will eat it.
Privatve Rossi: Still bastards.
Private Malky: Yeah, it's not even our bloody country.
Private Butler: How long gone do you reckon they are?
Sepoy Jondalar: Why? Worried we'll catch up to them?
Private Butler: [chuckles] Yeah, right. Be a bloody miracle at this rate.
Private Cooke: They are probably right around the next corner.
Privatve Rossi: Piss off, no they're not.
Private Cooke: Why don't they just bloody well give up? Eh? Don't they wanna to go home?
Privatve Rossi: They hate their wives and mothers... and Germany must be a shit hole.
Private Cooke: They're retreating... they're miles back. We've got 'em on the ropes at least.
Sepoy Jondalar: No. We don't.

Captain Smith: Next bridge is six miles. We'll have to divert.
Schofield: I can't, sir. I don't have the time.
Captain Smith: Of course. [shakes Schofield's hand] Best of luck.
Schofield: Thank you, sir.
Captain Smith: Corporal, if you do manage to get to Colonel Mackenzie, make sure there are witnesses.
Schofield: They are direct orders, sir.
Captain Smith: I know. But some men just want the fight.

Schofield: Sir! I have orders to stop this attack!
Lieutenant Richards: What?
Schofield: Where is Colonel Mackenzie?!
Lieutenant Richards: He's further up the line.
Schofield: How far?
Lieutenant Richards: Three hundred yards. He's in a cut in cover. You'll have to wait until the first wave goes over.
Schofield: No. No, I can't.
Lieutenant Richards: Second Platoon, thirty seconds!
[Schofield looks down the line, then over the trench into no man's land. He crawls up the side of the trench]
Lieutenant Richards: You can't possibly make it that way man, are you bloody insane? [Schofield looks looks back at the officer, who realizes what he is about to do] What the hell are you doing, Lance Corporal? [Schofield climbs up over the trench into the open field] No. No, no, no, NO!

Schofield: Colonel Mackenzie! This attack is not to go ahead! You have been ordered to stop!
Colonel Mackenzie: Who the hell are you?
Schofield: Lance Corporal Schofield, sir, Eighth. I have orders from General Erinmore to call off this attack.
Colonel Mackenzie: You're too late, Lance Corporal.
Schofield: Sir, these orders are from Army Command. You have to read them.
Major Hepburn: Should we hold back the second wave, sir?
Colonel Mackenzie: No, Major, hesitate now and we lose; victory's only five hundred yards away.
Schofield: Sir, please read the letter!
Colonel Mackenzie: I have heard it all before. I'm not going to wait until dusk or for fog. I'm not calling back my men only to send them out there again tomorrow, not when we've got the bastards on the run. This is their last stand.
Schofield: The Germans planned this, sir. They've been planning it for months. They want you to attack. Read the letter.
[Hepburn takes the letter from Schofield and hands it to Mackenzie who reads it]
Colonel Mackenzie: Major.
Major Hepburn: Yes, sir?
Colonel Mackenzie: Stand them down.
Major Hepburn: Yes, sir.
Colonel Mackenzie: [to his other officers] Call up the orderlies. Tend the wounded. Hold the line in case they counter.
Officers: Yes, sir.
Major Hepburn: [runs outside] Stand down! Stand down! Cease fire!
Colonel Mackenzie: [wearily] I hoped today might be a good day. Hope is a dangerous thing. That's it for now, and then next week Command will send a different message. "Attack at dawn." There is only one way this war ends: Last man standing. Have someone see to your wounds. [Schofield doesn't respond] Now fuck off, Lance Corporal.
Major Hepburn: [as Schofield passes him at the entrance] Well done, lad.

Schofield: Lieutenant Blake?
Joseph Blake: Yes? Do you need medical assistance?
Schofield: No, sir. I'm from the Eighth.
Joseph Blake: What the hell are you doing here?
Schofield: I was sent here to deliver a message--
Joseph Blake: The Eighth? You must know my brother.
Schofield: I was sent here with him.
Joseph Blake: Tom's here? Where is he?
Schofield: It was very quick. I'm sorry.
[Blake stands sadly in shock, as Schofield hands him his younger brother's possessions]
Joseph Blake: What's your name?
Schofield: Schofield, sir.
Joseph Blake: I'm sorry... what?
Schofield: It's Schofield, sir. William Schofield. Will.
Joseph Blake: Well, you need some food. Get yourself to the mess tent.
[Schofield starts to walk away, then pauses and turns around]
Schofield: If I may, I'd like to write to your mother. Tell her that Tom wasn't alone.
Joseph Blake: Of course.
Schofield: He was... he was a good man. Always telling funny stories. He saved my life.
[Schofield reaches out to shake his hand. Blake takes it]
Joseph Blake: I am glad you were with him. Thank you, Will.


  • Time is the enemy.


  • Once I'd had the idea that it was two hours of real time, it seemed like a natural thing to lock the audience together with the central characters in a way that they gradually began to realize, consciously or unconsciously, they couldn't get out of, it operates more like a ticking-clock thriller, in a way, and so to experience every second passing with the men seemed like a great idea.


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