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Sam Mendes directs Mark Strong on set of new World War I epic 1917

Sam Mendes directs Mark Strong on set of new World War I epic 1917

James Bond director Sam Mendes was back on the set of his latest project – World War I epic 1917 – on Wednesday, this time with one of the film’s stars, Mark Strong. 

Sam, 53, fresh from his Tony Award win this weekend, was seen for another day at Govan Graving Docks, Glasgow to direct the much-anticipated film, which also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden, George MacKay and Colin Firth.

The film follows two British soldiers over the course of a single day at the height of World War I, and will hope to follow in the footsteps of other successful war films, such as Saving Private Ryan and Dunkirk.

Man in charge: James Bond director Sam Mendes was back on the set of his latest project – World War I epic 1917 – on Wednesday, this time with one of the film’s stars, Mark Strong

The acclaimed director was filming outside an abandoned building, which looked to be somewhat derelict – perhaps to replicate the damage done during the so-called Great War, which ended in 1918.

Sam wore all-black as he paced around the set, chatting to Mark, 55, who was dressed in army garb.

The protagonist soldiers (played by Dean-Charles Chapman and George McKay) are followed, during the movie, over a single day during the war.

George, 27, was also seen on set, dressed ready for battle.

New Look: The Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow were transported back to the early 20th Century to film scenes for the epic

Hands on: The director was seen getting stuck in on set, passing one of the actors a rifle

Acclaimed: Sam has taken the helm as director for the picture, his first since the divisive Spectre in 2015

At work: The British star’s appearance also came after he won a Tony for Best Direction of a Play for his work on The Ferryman

Dark: 1917 tells the tale of two young British soldiers over one day at the height of the First World War, and was first scheduled to start filming in April

WHAT IS 1917 ABOUT?

Little is known about the plot of Sam Mendes’ latest collaboration with Stephen Spielberg, although 1917 wasn’t short of bloodshed for WWI.

The year featured the Battle Of Arras and the second Battle Of Aisne, as well as several other devastating events.

With the Battle Of Arras on the Western Front taking place in April-May 1917, it’s speculated this could be one of the subjects of the movie, with 44 Scottish battalions advancing alongside seven Canadian Scottish battalions in the fight.

The British Third and First Army suffered about 160,000 deaths and the German 6th Army about 125,000 casualties in the battle.

The dock setting also hints at Germany’s unrestricted U-boat warfare earlier that year.

It was declared that all allied and neutral ships were to be sunk on sight, with close to a million tons of shipping being destroyed over the weeks that followed.

Lloyd George also ordered Royal Navy convoys to protect merchant ships destined for Britain.

In June 1917, the British detonated 19 large mines containing around 455 tonnes of explosives under the Messines Ridge in Belgium.

The explosions were so severe that they could be heard as far away as London and Dublin.

10,000 German soldiers were killed in this incident, and the town of Messines was destroyed completely. 

The film – which is also being produced by Stephen Spielberg – is not Sam’s first when it comes to the subject matter of war.

He also fronted the 2005 biopic Jarhead, based on the memoir of U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford. Producer Spielberg also helmed War Horse in 2011.

Sam has earned plenty of critical acclaim for his directing, and won an Academy Award in 2000 for his work on American Beauty.

The British star was praised for James Bond’s 23rd film Skyfall, though Spectre earned a more divided reception from fans.

Sam’s next picture comes after he won a Tony for Best Direction of a Play for his work on The Ferryman, though he was not in attendance for the ceremony in New York, presumably already in Scotland preparing to get to work.

Filming began on April 1 and will take place in Wiltshire, Hankley Common and continue in Scotland, as well as Shepperton Studios. 

Plans to film on Salisbury Plain – for scenes requiring a mock French farmhouse and replica trenches at Shrewton, a village six miles west of Stonehenge – caused a stir previously, when Wiltshire Council demanded an assessment before approval.

There were worries that filmmakers might disturb ‘particularly significant remains’ and cause ‘unnecessary damage’ to the site.

Spielberg and Mendes first worked together on American Beauty. Spielberg later produced Road To Perdition, directed by Mendes. 

‘I couldn’t be happier to be back working with Amblin and Steven Spielberg again, alongside Donna Langley and all at Universal,’ Mendes said in a statement to Deadline when the project was announced. ‘I’ve been working on this script for over a year, so it’s very exciting to start making the movie itself a reality.’

While it is unclear which key event will be replicated in the film, 1917 was defined as the year in which the war began to turn in the favour of the British and French allies.

With the Battle Of Arras on the Western Front taking place in April-May 1917, it’s speculated this could be one of the subjects of the movie, with 44 Scottish battalions advancing alongside seven Canadian Scottish battalions in the fight. 

Meet and greet: Sam appeared pally with his cast members

Lavish: Produced by Stephen Spielberg, the picture boasts a star-studded cast including Richard Madden, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Colin Firth and Andrew Scott

Icon: This is not Sam’s first time directing a war film, as he also fronted the 2005 biopic Jarhead, based on the memoir of U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford

Acclaimed: Sam has earned plenty of critical acclaim for his directing, and won an Academy Award in 2000 for his work on American Beauty

History: While it is unclear which key event will be replicated in the film, 1917 was defined as the year in which the war turned in the favour of the British and French allies

The British Third and First Army suffered about 160,000 and the German 6th Army about 125,000 casualties in the battle.

The dock setting also hints at Germany’s unrestricted U-boat warfare earlier that year.

It was declared that all allied and neutral ships were to be sunk on sight, with close to a million tons of shipping being destroyed over the weeks that followed.

Lloyd George also ordered Royal Navy convoys to protect merchant ships destined for Britain. 

Make way: Actor Mark Strong, dressed in period military attire, was seen walking across the rubble strewn set

Plenty to talk about: Members of the production team gathered round the director as they passed the time between takes

Action! Sam was seen guiding the stars of the film through the scenes

Here he comes: The actor was seen wrapping a large coat around him

Main man: Director Sams was seen talking to an assembled group of assistants and cast-members 

 In charge: Sam was seen watching on closely as the action played out on set

Leading man: MacKay will play a key role in the new film when it goes on general release

In June 1917, the British detonated 19 large mines containing around 455 tonnes of explosives under the Messines Ridge in Belgium.

The explosions were so severe that they could be heard as far away as London and Dublin.

10,000 German soldiers were killed in this incident, and the town of Messines was destroyed completely.

The year followed 1916’s Battle Of The Somme, which claimed one million lives and has become known as one of the deadliest battles in human history. 

The end of 1917 also saw the Battle of Cambrai, which killed around 90,000 soldiers, and though the British were at first successful, a German counter-attack led to both sides reclaiming a small amount of captured territory. 

1917 will be released on 25th December 2019 in the US, and 10th January 2020 in the UK. 

Out soon: 1917 will be released on 25th December 2019 in the US, and 10th January 2020 in the UK

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