And all my loved ones who've gone on... ♫
1917 is a simple story about two soldiers delivering a crucial message, and the terrible sacrifices made to achieve this. Tears can be shed just from reading this description.
- The sight of countless corpses strewn across the blasted No Man's Land. The title of the track during this scene is "Gehenna". While Gehenna means "hell", which No Man's Land resembles, Gehenna was initially where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children by fire in the Bible, just like leaders of Germany and Britain sacrificing their own youth in fires of war.
- As Schofield and Blake explore the German barracks, Schofield comes across a photograph of someone's wife and child still pinned to a bedframe, left behind by some random soldier in the German army's haste to retreat. He stares at it for a beat, likely reminded of his own.
- When Blake prods Schofield as to why he traded his medal away instead of taking it home, Schofield reveals that he hates going home to see his family, knowing that he would have to leave them and they may never see him again, before being overcome with emotion. Then it's revealed at the end that he's married and a parent, which makes his anguish even worse.
- Blake asking Schofield if he is dying, and the older soldier having no choice but to say yes. Right before he dies, Blake pulls out a photograph of his family and asks Schofield to reassure his mum that he didn't die scared.
- These lines from the official script:
- Schofield crawling out of the river and finally breaking down on the bank. And not just the one-tear-rolling-down-your-cheek kind of breakdown. No, Schofield—who was presented earlier as the more cynical and composed of the two leads—audibly sobs and shakes, helping to emphasize just how much stress he's been under for the last 24 hours. It's also the clearest reaction he's had throughout the film regarding the death of his friend—for whom he hasn't even grieved properly yet.
- The "Wayfaring Stranger" scene has Schofield finding the second wave of the Devons waiting around until they're sent over, passing the time listening to a soldier singing the song. Schofield, after everything he's gone through, collapses and is basically catatonic until about a minute after the rest of the soldiers start moving, at which point he is able to snap out of it and get moving again to deliver the message to Col. Mackenzie.
- Right before he goes over the trenches, Schofield runs into a sobbing captain, who is clearly suffering from PTSD. When Schofield leaves him to find someone else who can give him answers, a mortar lands right next to the captain and presumably kills him.
- The climactic run across the trenches is also heartbreaking, as Schofield, too late to prevent the first wave, desperately sprints through the hundreds and hundreds of soldiers all running out of the trench into their inevitable deaths, in order to prevent any more waves of pointless dead.
- The British soldiers going over the top near the end of the film was not only horrifying, but also very tear jerking. The chances of the soldiers surviving were very slim and most who left the trenches would never return alive.
- The huge number of wounded soldiers can be hard to get through without a tear. The vast majority of the victims are wounded mortally or with life-changing injuries. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, one soldier on a stretcher has lost at least one of his hands. More soldiers are seen heavily bleeding and many are so badly wounded they just break down and cry, with some even shouting that they want to go home. The fact that most of those men probably died in those med tents, hundreds of miles away from their families, just makes it an even bigger tearjerker.
- Blake's death is sad enough, but his brother's reaction to the news (after believing he was still alive) is heartbreaking. When Schofield gives him Blake's possessions, Joe is very obviously holding back tears, even as he thanks Will for being with his brother when he died.
- The films final moments has Schofield opening his tin container and gazing at a picture of his wife and daughter. A separate picture of his wife has Come back to us written on the back.
- The very fact that the war isn't over by the end of the film, and that anyone shown making it out alive could die the very next day—or even the next hour. Furthermore, anyone who does survive the war will have to face another great war in the coming decades, their sons likely having to go through the same ordeal as them.