How Director Sam Mendes Made the War Drama ‘1917’ Look Like One Unbroken Shot

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From Saving Private Ryan to Apocalypse Now, there’s no shortage of memorable war films. But this Christmas, director Sam Mendes will add a new entry to the genre when he releases the World War I-set drama 1917.

The story follows two British soldiers, Schofield, played by George MacKay, and Blake, who will be played by Dean-Charles Chapman. In the film, they are tasked with delivering a message that will help save thousands of men from a trap set by German forces. Sounds like a typical war movie, right? Well, here’s a reason why this one has the potential to be a war movie classic: 1917 was filmed to appear as one continuous shot for the entire two-hour movie—with no cuts.

“It’s set on one day, told in real time in two hours, all in one unbroken shot,” Mendes said at the New York Comic-Con panel for the film. “It’s about going through the journey with the characters. The idea was there from the beginning, it was even written on the cover of the script.”