Did they use real rats in 1917?
Stories of soldiers first world war
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1917 is a 2019 British war film directed and produced by Sam Mendes, and written by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. The film stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, with Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch in supporting roles. It is partially inspired by stories told to Mendes by his paternal grandfather, Alfred Mendes, about his time in World War I. The film, which takes place shortly after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich, follows two young British soldiers who are ordered to deliver a message that cancels an offensive attack doomed to failure. This message is especially important to one of the soldiers because his brother will be part of the attack.
1917 true story
The film depicts the story of two corporals, Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay), who must go deep into enemy territory on a special mission to save the former’s brother, who is part of a battalion that will fall into a German trap if they carry out the attack. This narrative has a direct connection to Sam Mendes, for, as The Times explains, his grandfather Alfred was awarded a military medal for extraordinary bravery in carrying messages under heavy fire at Passchendaele.
But in this case, the film starts from a strategy that never happened: the Germans have retreated to a new defensive position, the Hindenburg Line, while the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, plans an offensive with 1,600 soldiers. This event never happened. In addition, the main reason why Blake and Schofield advance alone to warn the battalion is because communications are cut off. The British media assures that, despite the chaos in the trenches, it was relatively easy to install new telephone lines.
What was life like for soldiers in world war i?
The men at the front had supply problems, there were food shortages, and sickness was caused by rat infestation conditions. Along with enemy action, many troops had to contend with new diseases: trench foot, trench fever and nephritis. When the war ended in 1918, the British Army’s losses, as a result of enemy action and disease, were 673,375 dead and missing, along with another 1,643,469 wounded. The rush to demobilize at the end of the war substantially decreased the strength of the British Army from its peak of 4,000,000 men in 1918 to 370,000 men in 1920.
The regulars and reserves – at least on paper – totaled a mobilized force of nearly 700,000 men, although only 150,000 men were immediately available to be part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that was sent to the Continent. This consisted of six infantry divisions and one cavalry division. By contrast, the French Army in 1914 mobilized 1,650,000 troops and 62 infantry divisions, while the German Army mobilized 1,850,000 troops and 87 infantry divisions. In 1914, the French Army mobilized 1,650,000 troops and 62 infantry divisions, while the German Army mobilized 1,850,000 troops and 87 infantry divisions.[9
Treaty of versailles
Throughout history, war films have been full of epic moments and heroic actions by their protagonists. It has been used as a propaganda tool for various purposes: recruitment, acceptance of ideologies and propagation of messages. For example, Hollywood has managed through its cinema to create a perception that the participation of the United States in the Second World War was much more incisive and decisive than the participation of Russia, the country with the most deaths in the Great War. Cinema as propaganda, generator of false epicness and manipulation of ideas. Fortunately, not all war films follow this propagandistic line. There is also a war cinema that aims to show the horror of war and destroy the false myths surrounding heroism and the awarding of medals of honor. «1917» belongs to this group of films. Sam Mendes starts from the memories of his grandfather, a survivor of World War I, to elaborate the plot of the film together with Krysty Wilson-Cairns.