Sam Mendes’ WWI epic 1917 has emerged as a Best Picture favorite at the Oscars, and at least part of the reason why is that the film takes place as one continuous shot. How Mendes and his team were able to pull off such a feat had been the film’s most tantalizing mystery, but now a new featurette is pulling back the curtain on just how the one-shot sausage was made.
As it turns out, the movie isn’t actually one-shot, but rather is made up of several very long takes that give the impression of one continuous shot — which is still impressive. The film’s unorthodox production proved to be a challenge in just about every way. From uncooperative weather and a lack of lighting to space restrictions and constantly moving cameras, the making of this war epic looks like it was extraordinarily difficult. Mendes estimates that the movie took five times as much planning as a typical movie, and after watching the featurette, that seems like a pretty conservative estimate. The video also shines a light on the film’s cinematographer, Roger Deakins, who seems destined to take home another Best Cinematography Oscar next year for his work. Deakins had been nominated for the award 14 times before finally winning in 2017 for Blade Runner 2049, and he certainly has to be considered the frontrunner for 2019. Take a look at the featurette below to see just how much care and planning Mendes and Deakins put into the filming of 1917.
Here’s the film’s official synopsis:
At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (Captain Fantastic’s George MacKay) and Blake (Game of Thrones’ Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers — Blake’s own brother among them.
1917 opens in select theaters on Christmas Day, and everywhere else on Jan. 10.