1917 (2019) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • April 6th, 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap.

  • April 1917, the Western Front. Two British soldiers are sent to deliver an urgent message to an isolated regiment. If the message is not received in time the regiment will walk into a trap and be massacred. To get to the regiment they will need to cross through enemy territory. Time is of the essence and the journey will be fraught with danger.

  • April 6, 1917. On a battlefield in Northern France, Lance Corporal Tom Blake with the British Army is asked to choose one of his battalion colleagues to join him on an assignment, he choosing his best friend, Lance Corporal Will Schofield. It isn't until Blake chooses Schofield that they learn of the dangerous nature of the mission: to hand deliver a message to Colonel MacKenzie leading another nearby battalion, they having to cross no man's land to what they have been told are now the abandoned German trenches to get to MacKenzie just past the nearby town of Écoust. The message, which must reach its destination by dawn tomorrow, is for MacKenzie to abort his troop's attack then on the supposedly retreating Germans who are in reality lying in wait, the Germans having planned this deception for months. The lives of MacKenzie and his 1,600 men are at risk if the message does not make it through in time, one of those men being Blake's brother, Lt. Joseph Blake. Blake and Schofield's stories as it pertains to them as soldiers in the bigger picture of the war, as soldiers trying to stay alive, as friends, and as human beings who have their own motivations are told for as long as they are able to survive on this mission.

  • It's been already three devastating years into the costly World War I, and the Imperial German Army seems to have retreated from their position in the battle-scarred Western Front--an elaborate scheme designed to lure the Allies into a deadly trap. On April 6, 1917--with the lives of 1,600 fellow soldiers hanging by a thread--the best friends and British Army Lance Corporals, Tom Blake and Will Schofield, undertake a peril-laden mission to hand-deliver an urgent, life-saving message to Colonel MacKenzie's Second Battalion of the Devonshire line infantry regiment. With this in mind, amid the horrors of an uncannily silent no man's land, the young brothers-in-arms must traverse nine long miles of hostile enemy terrain in the French countryside, to reach the 2nd Devons in time and call off the imminent attack. Now, two ordinary troopers walk into certain death. What makes a true hero?

  • British trenches somewhere in France. World war has been going on for the third year, heroic illusions have dissipated; general mood - boredom and fatigue. Stuff the belly, sleep, return home to Christmas Eve. On another quiet day, when nothing happens, two young soldiers, Blake and Schofield, are summoned to the general, who instructs them to send an important message to Colonel MacKenzie in the Second Devonshire Battalion, whose telephone connection was cut off by the enemy.

  • During World War I, two British soldiers -- Lance Cpl. Schofield and Lance Cpl. Blake -- receive seemingly impossible orders. In a race against time, they must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades -- including Blake's own brother.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • This entire movie is filmed as one continuous shot from start to finish with characters moving from place to place in real-time.

    On April 6, 1917 during the first World War, Corporals Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean Charles-Chapman) of the British army are sleeping under a tree when they are awoken by a sergeant, who asks Blake to pick another soldier and report to his superior. Blake grabs Schofield and they walk through the trenches, wondering what they've been asked to do - Blake hopes to be home by Christmas.

    They arrive at General Erinmore's (Colin Firth) quarters. He assigns them on an extremely important mission - he wants them to cross over former German territory - they have retreated in order to get an extremely important message to Colonel Mackenzie, who is chasing after the retreating Germans in order to finish them off. Erinmore explains that this is a mistake - the Germans are luring the British troops into a trap, and they will be decimated. Erinmore has picked Blake because his brother is in the troop that will be attacking, and this mission puts his life on the line. Blake, determined to save his brother, agrees instantly to the extremely dangerous mission.

    Blake and Schofield leave immediately through the trenches until they find Lieutenant Leslie (Andrew Scott), and give him their orders to cross. Leslie thinks it's an insane idea, but gives them instructions and directions on how to get through the former German line. He gives them a flare gun to indicate that they have survived if they make it.

    Blake and Schofield make their way through the empty battlefields full of wire, muddy trenches, and then a massive super trench filled with mud and dead bodies. Schofield's hand gets caught in the spiked wire, injuring it badly - he wraps the injury and moves onward. Eventually, the two finally finish crossing the space between and arrive at the German trenches, which are empty and abandoned.

    They go inside the underground and find the German barracks empty and crawling with rats. Blake finds a tripwire, and before they can react, one of the rats crossing the wire, causing a huge explosion that buries them underground. Schofield is fully buried, but Blake manages to wake him up and get him out so they can flee before the entire barracks collapse. Once out, Schofield angrily asks Blake why he picked him to on this mission. Blake explains he thought they were just going on a food run, he never thought it would be this mission. Blake fires the flare off.

    They continue onward, finding a green area. Schofield tells Blake they'll likely get a medal for this. Blake says it will be nice since Schofield lost his previous one, but Schofield tells him he didn't lose it but swapped it for wine. Blake is shocked he didn't take the medal home, but Schofield tells him he hated leaving before. The two come upon cherry blossoms, which Blake knows because his mother has an orchard where he and his brother picked cherries.

    They then find a house in the field, which they check but find no one in. Schofield finds a crow and fresh milk, which he fills his canteen with. The two soldiers witness a dog fight in the air between three planes, which ends with the British shooting the German plane down - and it heads straight for them. They run out of the way as it crashes, and pull the burning German pilot out of the cockpit. Schofield suggests putting him out of his misery, but Blake tells Schofield to get him water. As he does, the German brutally stabs Blake in the gut. Schofield shoots the German and desperately tries to get Blake patched up and move him, but it's too late. Blake begins bleeding out, and tells Schofield to write to his mother and tell her he wasn't scared. Schofield promises him, and tells him he will finish the mission before Blake dies.

    Shortly after, more British soldiers arrive. Captain Smith (Mark Strong) tells Schofield that they are passing through and can take him some of the ways to his destination. He advises Schofield not to dwell on the loss of his friend. Schofield rides in the back of a truck with some rowdy soldiers. When the truck gets stuck in the mud, he leads them in pushing the truck. Once they get back in, he tells them his mission. Schofield gets dropped off a river that he must cross to get to his destination, and he comes under gunfire. He manages to race into the building where the shooter is, and the two shoot each other - Schofield kills the German, but he is hit in the helmet and knocked unconscious.

    When he awakes, it is night, and the town is lit by fires. He dodges gunfire as he races through the burning town, eventually stopping to hide in a building where he finds Lauri (Claire DuBurcq), a woman who only speaks French hiding in fear. Schofield speaks French and tells her he's not German. She tends to some of his wounds and reveals there's a baby she's watching over. Schofield gives it some of his milk, and Lauri explains she has no idea who its parents are. She begs him to stay with them, but he explains he must continue his mission. He goes back out into the firefight, having to kill and flee in order to survive. Being shot at, he dives off a cliff into a river, which he fights to survive in. Eventually, the river calms, and he reaches land, where he breaks into sobs.

    He keeps going until he hears singing, and sees a group of soldiers sitting around listening to another sing. He sits and listens, then tells a soldier he's looking for the 2nd. The soldier tells him that's them, that they're following the larger group. Schofield runs forward into the trenches, begging someone to listen to him not to go forward with the attack, which no one will - it's too late, the battle is starting - the first wave is sent. Schofield realizes the only way to reach MacKenzie fast enough is not to take the trenches, but instead run sideways across the active battlefield, which he does. He survives and gets back into the trenches and finds Colonel MacKenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch), who at first refuses to listen to him, in full disbelief and insisting they are about to defeat the Germans. Schofield pleads with him to read the letter, which he finally does - and he orders his men to stand down.

    Schofield goes to the medical tents looking for Blake's brother. He eventually finds him (Richard Madden), unharmed. Schofield breaks the bad news to him about his brother and gives him some of his belongings that he took with him. Blake is devastated, but pulls himself together and tells Schofield to get some food for himself. Schofield asks if he can write to their mother, and he agrees. He tells Blake that his brother saved his life. The two shake hands, and Schofield goes and finds a tree to sit under. He takes out a photo of his wife and of his children, looks at them, then closes his eyes.

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