Owen Strachan: “1917” and the Value of Honor

What gives meaning to our days?

The new film 1917 stages this question in the wilderness of World War I, an apocalyptic firescape. Two soldiers embark on an impossible quest, debating the value of medals for bravery as they go. A soldier who won a medal for valor but has turned cynical denies the significance of his award: “It’s just a bit of tin,” he says.

As the journey unfolds, he shows tremendous courage under fire. When he completes his mission, he hands over several small items from a friend. All that is left to remember his comrade is a bit of tin.

Sam Mendes’s film is deceptively profound. It shows the value of honor, of fighting when everyone else wants to hide, even if the call of death comes in amidst the call of duty.

There is something worse than dying or suffering.

It’s living without honor; living without courage.