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In the movie two young soldiers, Blake (played by Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay), are charged with making a perilous 24-hour trek across No Man’s Land to deliver a message, warning troops of an ambush that could result in the deaths of 1,600 British soldiers, including Blake's brother.
The basis for the film was inspired by the stories of Lance Corporal Alfred H. Mendes, director and co-writer Sam Mendes's grandfather, who served as a message runner in WWI. However, though the film is dedicated to him, Alfred and the missions he served on don't actually feature in the film. Rather, Sam and his co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns created fictional characters to carry out a fictional mission informed by Alfred's stories.
"The movie is a fiction based on a fact, like all of my favorite war literature movies. Like Apocalypse Now and All Quiet on the Western Front. These are historically accurate but the characters are creations," Mendes told Deadline. "The characters George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman play are not my grandfather. But the spirit of what he told me and the central idea of a man carrying a message wouldn’t leave me. It just clung on in there somehow, for the last 50 years."
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