1917 (2019) Screenplay Analysis

1917 (2019), written by Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, follows the story of a British Lance Corporal as he attempts to deliver a message calling off a German ambush in WWI.

Script Formatting Notes

  • Draft Read: Undated
  • Type: Spec
  • Page Count: 120
  • Reading Speed: Medium
  • Setting(s): France
  • Plot Structure: Linear, Spanning one day (continuous)
  • Genre(s): Action, War
  • Theme(s): Death, Friendship, Loyalty, Bravery, The search for meaning
  • Protagonist Change: Significant

Overall Thoughts

Let’s start with what makes this film unique: Except for one break, it is filmed as a continuous camera shot, meaning there are no camera cuts. And the protagonist’s final run to find Colonel Mackenzie is an epic scene.

The script is clever. It provides a powerful, albeit formulaic, story, and does everything in its power to draw up maximal raw emotion.

The screenplay also uses some alternative formatting strategies. For example, post-dialogue action lines note how a line should be delivered by the actor:


I will.

Blake’s tone indicates that this is the end of the conversation.


The plot is straightforward. On Page 9 (10% of the way through the script), General Erinmore, tells the two leads to deliver a message to the front line. To stretch one mission into an entire feature, there are various setbacks the protagonists (and later single protagonist) face and overcome. In that regard, the screenplay feels formulaic.


Going off of the above paragraph, the story follows Schofield on a textbook hero’s journey. At first, he doesn’t want to go, but then he begrudgingly agrees to help. Then his partner, Blake, is killed, and he is compelled to finish the journey. And of course, the clock is running out.

Dialogue & Pacing

Dialogue is standard. No parts stood out as inherently preachy, witty or different in any unusual way.

The pacing is a bit tricky to nail down. Theoretically, one would think a plot set over 24 hours should be quick, but in this case, the opposite is true. This makes some sense, as there simply isn’t going to be that much fast-paced action in 24 hours. So we bounce between slow scenes and slower scenes, except for a few adrenaline points throughout the script, the first two acts are slow. The Third Act and climax, however, are fast-paced and utilize edge-of-your seat writing.

Emotional Impact

It’s a really well-thought-out story that is intended to show the grit and tenacity of the protagonist. Is it unique? Not really. But the script isn’t necessarily intended to be so, rather the focus of this movie is the cinematography, and the script really tries to support that goal however possible.

But does the script elicit strong emotions? Sure, but not any more than any other war movie.

Best Part of The Script

Start on Page 97 (83% of the way through the script) and read until Schofield delivers the message to Colonel Mackenzie. This is the climax. It’s very well done and after reading, you can watch the scene: