The majestic oak tree that adds a poignancy to the beautifully crafted final scenes of Sam Mendes’ First World War blockbuster 1917 hides a whiff of dishonour.
One extra claims the spot was used as a makeshift toilet by many of the 300 extras on set that day, unaware that one of the film’s stars, George MacKay, would use it as a leaning post during a tender shot.
The film, nominated for 10 awards at last night’s Oscars, after winning seven BAFTAs, was choreographed to perfection to create the illusion of being shot in a single take. So timing was of the essence during filming, which might excuse the lack of toilet breaks.
Actor Peter Shepherd, who worked as an extra on the film, laughs as he recalls: “There’s an oak tree around the end of the film. There must have been 100 extras pissing against that tree throughout the day as the toilets were so far out.
“No one told us the actor would be sitting under it at the end.”
Peter, who can be seen lying on a stretcher with a rifle strapped to his leg in one scene, described the experience of being one of 300 actors playing soldiers charging from trenches as “breathtaking”.
Just don’t take too many breaths in around the foot of that oak tree.
The war epic from Skyfall director Sam Mendes follows two young British soldiers, Schofield ( George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), who are given a seemingly impossible mission at the height of World War One.
In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack by hundreds of soldiers, with Blake’s own brother ( Richard Madden) among them.
The film also stars Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
But what have the reactions been like?
Clayton Davis of AwardsCircuit wrote on Twitter : "'1917' is the best war film since SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The cinematography of the year. The cinematography of the decade. Thomas Newman’s orchestral masterpiece. Sam Mendes gift to cinema…and his family. Every ounce is powerful."
Naturally, the reviews also reflect a positive reaction to the film. Read more here
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