Will '1917' Make Americans Care About the Great War?

"1917" (Universal Pictures)

Sam Mendes quit directing James Bond films to make "1917," an old-fashioned war movie about a life-or-death mission to prevent a battlefield massacre. The first trailer is now online for everyone to see.

The centennial of World War I's armistice passed almost without notice last year, especially when compared to the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day that we experienced earlier this summer. Is it because no one now living knows a World War I veteran or because the United States played a much larger role in the second World War?

Mendes aims to bring the war down to a human scale by focusing on two soldiers -- Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) -- assigned to cross enemy territory to deliver a message that can prevent the battlefield slaughter of hundreds of men.

In a "Saving Private Ryan" twist, one of the soldiers whose life is in danger happens to be Blake's own brother.

Mendes co-wrote the screenplay with Krysty Wilson-Cairns. And even though his two leads are relative unknowns, the cast is rounded out with a strong team of well-known British actors including Mark Strong ("Zero Dark Thirty," the Kingsman movies), Andrew Scott ("Fleabag," "Spectre," "Sherlock"), Richard Madden ("Game of Thrones," "Bodyguard"), Colin Firth ("The King's Speech," the Kingsman movies) and Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock," "Doctor Strange").

The studio must be aiming for Oscars because the film is getting a limited release on Christmas Day and will open around the rest of the country on Jan. 10, 2020, a strategy that worked well for "American Sniper" a few years back.

We'll have more details on "1917" as they come available.

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