Sam Mendes: I wanted to make a film that needs to be seen on the big screen

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Sir Sam Mendes has said he felt a responsibility to make a film that needs to be seen on the big screen with his war epic 1917.

The filmmaker, who picked up the best director and best picture prize at the Golden Globes on Sunday, told the PA news agency: “It is not a sequel, it’s not a franchise, and it’s not an animated film, and that is basically 95% of what plays on big screens, or at least on large numbers of big screens now, and I do think it’s important.

“I think you have a responsibility, if you’re a film-maker who is interested in scale, to make a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen.

“I have made movies of all sorts of scale, big franchise movies, but I’ve also made tiny independent films.

“Some of the movies I made I would be fine about being seen on a smaller screen now, because small screens are getting better and television generally is superlative, and so when you do step up and make something for the cinema, you need to make it feel like you’re missing out if you’re not seeing it on the big screen, and that is what is important.”

The film, which is made to appear as one continuous take and has been nominated for nine Baftas, follows a pair of British soldiers who are tasked with crossing enemy territory to deliver a message that could save hundreds of lives.

It was inspired by a story told to him by his grandfather, who served in the First World War.

Sir Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins on the set of 1917 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Sir Sam, who received a knighthood in the new year honours, said he felt “not just familial responsibility but also generational”.

He added: “You have a responsibility, it sounds corny, to the men who fell in the war and the generation that was lost and there aren’t many movies made on this scale that are not franchise movies these days.

“To be able to be allowed to make one about the First World War, you do feel there is a responsibility to try and get details right and to make something that feels not like a dry history lesson, not all distant and good for you, but something that is an experience and that is going to make the war feel vivid and like it happened yesterday.”

1917 is released in UK cinemas on January 10.