A few thoughts on the film ‘1917’
I went to see ‘1917’ earlier this week. I thought it was epic – cleverly written, wonderfully produced and very atmospheric. It really did transport you right into the middle of the trenches of the First World War.
And yet, my social media feeds and timelines have been full for weeks by very angry historians, self-appointend experts and academics who have been wringing their hands and pulling on their tweed in much angst as they pull the film apart pointing out various historical inaccuracies.
A couple of my favourites have been that the bayonets were worn at the wrong angle and the fact that one of the main characters had a Lee Enfield rifle with no volley and mag cut off which meant it was a post war model.
I don’t know what is more sad. The fact that they spent their time in the cinema just looking out for these catastrophic cinematic and historical blunders or the fact they take great delight in telling anyone who will listen.
My message to those academic hand-wringers is simple: You need to get out more.
In all seriousness, I do think this historical obsession with minutiae is really missing the point. 1917 is a Hollywood film and we need to accept it for being exactly that. There aren’t many big budget films made on the First World War, so instead of giving it a kicking we need to embrace it and celebrate it. This week cinemas up and down the country have been chock full of people watching it – let’s be bold and say one million people go and see it in this country – and let’s be bold again and say 10% of those cinema goers are enthralled enough by the film to by a WW1 book or watch a documentary, we would have 100,000 people getting interested in the subject and trying to find out more. Plus don’t forget all the discussion online in social media and in the mainstream press – all of which is raising the awareness of and getting thousands upon thousands of people talking about the First World War.
This has to be a good thing, right?