Dear David / Hi Jan: Brickman & Galligan Discuss Film

1

by Jan Galligan in Santa Olaya, PR and David Brickman in Albany, NY

Note: The following account represents an actual email correspondence between two art-buddies, and is bookended by excerpts from the original script of the film 1917, which is the subject of their discussion.

1917
Written by
Sam Mendes
& Krysty Wilson-Carnes

© 2018 Storyworks Productions Limited. 
  All rights reserved.


EXT. MEADOW - DAY, APRIL 6TH 1917

A rolling landscape. The rustling of leaves, and birdsong.

Thunder rumbles in the distance. There is no rain.

A figure lies against a tree, eyes closed - this is
SCHOFIELD, early-20s. Soft features.

A man is sleeping next to him on the grass - BLAKE, 19,
youthful, strapping.

SERGEANT SANDERS (O.S.)

		Blake.

Blake doesn’t stir.

SERGEANT SANDERS (O.S.) (CONT'D)

		Blake!

Blake wakes. He’s in uniform, damp and crumpled - Lance
Corporal chevrons adorn it.

BLAKE
(sleepily)

		Sorry, Sarge.

SERGEANT SANDERS

		Pick a man, bring your kit.

BLAKE
		Yes, Sarge.

Blake stands, stiff limbs coming back to life.

Schofield’s eyes are still shut. Blake holds out his hand to
Schofield. Schofield opens his eyes - they are gentle, wise. Schofield grudgingly raises his hand for a lift.

Blake heaves him to his feet 

======================

Re: about your Nippertown article
11:59 PM  FEB 9, 2020
To: David Brickman
From: Jan Galligan

David:

Thanks for sending your Nippertown article with your selections for The Best of 2019. We enjoyed your take on all the films being considered for the 2020 Academy Awards and agree with your selection of 1917 as one the best films of last year.

Here’s our interpretation of that Sam Mendes movie:

The first half of the film, until the main character is shot and the screen goes black (for a significantly long time) is all real, it actually happens.

The second half of the film, when he “wakes up” after that long blackout, all takes place in his imagination, in the short time before he dies. Some say that you relive your life in the moment of your death. In his case, he finishes his assignment in his mind, during those final moments.

The look and feel of the film is different in the two halves. Realistic in the first segment, and exaggerated, high-key in the second.

The story ends exactly where it started. It’s just that the second time of him sitting comfortably under that tree — is also the moment of his death.

======================

Re: 1917
09:33 AM  FEB 10, 2020
From: David Brickman
To: Jan Galligan

Jan – that is a marvelous interpretation!

Do you have any idea if it’s true (i.e., that the filmmaker intended that)?

I can’t wait to watch it again and think about this.

thanks for writing!

David

======================

Re: 1917
09:43 AM  FEB 10, 2020
To: David Brickman
From: Jan Galligan

David:

Sometimes you just have to have the chutzpah of your convictions. It was an insight that came after having seen the film and trying to figure out the reason for the separation into two distinct segments, which at least in terms of events is before and after he gets shot.

Part two is so different in its look and feel from part one, and ending the film with the very same shot it begins with is so deliberate. This is the only explanation we could derive that makes sense.

Looking forward to your thoughts after you re-view the film.

Jan

======================

RE: 1917
4:36 PM  FEB 21, 2020
From: David Brickman
To: Jan Galligan

Hi Jan,

I went to see 1917 again last night, with your interpretation at the front of my mind.

Definitely a plausible explanation of the story!

The sequence in the village with the young woman and the baby was particularly dreamlike, as was the subsequent running from German gunfire without getting hit and then that plunge into the river.

I recall on my first viewing being perplexed by the sudden completely dry state of our hero during the last moments of the film, including a detail where he pulls out and looks at two or three mounted photos – which are dry as a bone and in no way water damaged, definitely impossible after his swim.

On second viewing, I was totally prepared to see him sitting against the tree just as at the beginning, and noted the last thing that happens is that he simply closes his eyes.

Dead!

All that said, I enjoyed the film just as much this second time around.

So, have you seen any commentary elsewhere that indicates others (or even the director) are confirming your theory?

That’s it for now.

Be well,
david

======================

11:22 AM  FEB 28, 2020
From: Jan Galligan
To: David Brickman

David:

Sorry for the delay in my response. Lillian and I were visiting Oaxaca and Mexico City with our NYC friends Patrice and Ted, and I did not have access to my email account, as that does not seem to work on my Android phone.

Interesting that you re-watched 1917 just before the Academy Awards were presented on the 24th. I was pleased to read your agreement with my interpretation of that film. I have not so far found any other opinion to match.

Interesting too to note that while we were in Mexico, Mendes’s film did win Oscars for: Cinematography, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. Having also been nominated for Best Film and Best Director, Mendes lost out to Korean director Bong Joon Ho and his “flawless tragicomedy,” Parasite.

Regardless, people will have to judge for themselves that closing scene, which exactly matches the opening scene and decide if the main character is alive, or as you note, dead.

All best,

Jan

CONTINUED: (3)

The grass sways in the breeze. This place is beginning to
turn gold in the morning sun. Schofield drifts through it.

The noise of the horror behind him gradually fades.

Ahead, on the plain, an oak tree towers. Untouched. On the
high branches, leaves dance in the wind.

Schofield walks towards it. He sits on the far side of it,
his back to the trunk. The land stretches out ahead of him in
the early light.

He listens to the wind in the leaves. Birdsong.

He undoes his breast pocket. He pulls out the small tobacco
tin. He stares at it.

He takes a deep breath and opens it. Two photographs.

Schofield lifts them out, looks at them:

TWO YOUNG GIRLS, his daughters. They smile at the camera.

He looks at the other - his WIFE.

He turns the photo over.

On the back, her handwriting:

“Come back to us.”

He stares at it for a long beat.

The pain on his face ebbs into longing. Love.

He closes his eyes and feels the sun on his face.


THE END.

Authors note: Excerpts from the script for 1917 are taken from a public-domain PDF copy, posted on the website of Variety, who describe themselves as: the most authoritative and trusted source of entertainment business news for 113 years, reaching an audience of affluent influencers, producers, executives and talent in the entertainment field.

Interested persons can read the full script here:
https://variety.com/2020/film/news/1917-screenplay-sam-mendes-full-script-golden-globes-winner-1203458729/

1 Comment
  1. Jan Galligan says

    Since moving to Puerto Rico from their former residence @75Grand, Jan Galligan & Lillian Mulero have written about film & art for En Rojo, cultural suppliment to Claridad, the island’s weekly Independista newspaper. They see at least two films in theaters every week, and  have collected the English version of those articles on their film blog here …

     https://cinefestsanjuan.posthaven.com/

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