1917 (Film)

1917 (Film) Summary and Analysis of Part 4


Schofield gets low to the ground, then runs into a shadow nearby, avoiding the flares being shot at the abandoned town. He eventually makes his way to the largest fire in the small town, where a German gunman runs towards him and shoots at him. Schofield manages to escape into a house, where he finds a fire crackling and a young French woman with a baby. He tells her he is a friend, and she confirms that the town he is in is Écoust. He tells her he is alone, and he needs to find a forest southeast of Écoust called Croisilles.

She directs him towards the river as Schofield notices some blood on the back of his head. She mends the wound, and he thanks her, as the baby girl begins to cry. The woman tells her that she does not know the girl's name, and does not know who the mother is, as Schofield pulls out some food for them. The woman tells Schofield that the baby needs milk and he remembers that he put milk in his canteen, handing it over.

He recites "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear to the baby, as a church bell tolls six times. Schofield decides he must go on and leaves them, even though it is the morning. The woman warns him not to go, as he will be seen, but he leaves nevertheless, going out into the fiery city. On his way, he encounters a German, who calls to the others. Schofield wrestles with the German, choking him just as another German appears. Schofield punches the new German coming towards him and runs away.

Schofield jumps into a river, which takes him over a waterfall. He manages to climb over some dead bodies to safety. On the shore, he sobs into the grass, before hearing a man singing somewhere in the distance. He climbs a hill, following the voice, finding the Second Battalion in the middle of the forest, listening to the singing.


The film is visually beautiful, in spite of the fact that it contains disturbing imagery. When Schofield runs through the abandoned town, now set ablaze by German troops, he runs through shadows and into the golden light of the fires surrounding him; the imagery is breathtaking, even if the viewer is also concerned for his safety and the stakes are high. The film follows in the footsteps of many other war movies, aestheticizing destruction, chaos, and the ravages of war, even as it depicts the conditions of war as nightmarish.

A motif throughout the film, after Blake's death, is the fact that Schofield is all alone. When he arrives in the basement of the abandoned house and finds the French woman and her baby, she asks him, "Where are the others?" Schofield pauses a moment, before informing her that he is alone. The film highlights this solitude, the fact that Schofield's mission, already extremely dangerous and difficult, is made all the more difficult by the fact that he has no companion or ally. Thus, the film shows that heroism is a solitary act, an instance in which one must rely solely on oneself.

Another motif in the film is the contrast between danger and comfort. In between all of Schofield's near brushes with death, he encounters respites and comforts, whether they come in the form of other soldiers or the unexpected meeting with the French woman in the basement who tends to his head. One of the most excruciating elements of Schofield's journey is the back-and-forth between comfort and danger, the fact that one moment he is running away from a gunman, and the next he is being shown tenderness in an unexpected way and reciting a poem to a baby. In this way, the film seeks to show the balance between harm and human kindness and tenderness within the context of war.

We do not learn very much biographical information about Schofield beyond his character in the film. Most of the scenes in the film are silent or sparsely worded action sequences in which he must beat the odds to survive. Beyond this, we know little about his life. It is this mystery about his identity that perhaps makes Schofield an even more sympathetic heroic character, in that he is an everyman onto whom everyone can project their sympathy. He is a young, innocent soldier on a mission, and his hero's journey can be seen as representative of the human experience and the challenges it presents.

Yet again, immediately after Schofield's near brush with death and his run-in with a giant waterfall, he soon finds himself in an unexpectedly peaceful place. After climbing up onto the shore, he finds the British army, the Second Battalion, gathered in the woods, sitting on the ground and listening to a man sing a tender ballad. It is a striking image, especially after so much destruction, of a group of men in repose. It is also striking because Schofield has traveled through so much chaos and danger, only to find the people he has been looking for in a state of quiet contemplation.