At the start of the movie 1917, they are walking in British line's trenches where they have names for each section.

After they come to the deserted German line trenches, it looks exactly as the line they came from, only with German names.

Did they use the same location for both lines? Did they want to show lines were similar, meaning is it reflecting real lines in WW1?

from YouTube, british trenches vs german trenches

  • 2
    I'm not a historian but my understanding is that trenches were built on both sides using essentially the same methods. There's no reason to think the German trenches should look much different than the British trenches.
    – sanpaco
    Jan 17, 2020 at 21:07
  • @sanpaco so is it the same location?
    – Ori Marko
    Jan 17, 2020 at 21:12
  • 1
    I thought the point was the the German trenches were different - more advanced... with their concrete walls, spring beds and bigger rats, etc.
    – komodosp
    Jan 20, 2020 at 9:35
  • @colmde updated, I'm asking specific about the trenches
    – Ori Marko
    Jan 20, 2020 at 11:17

3 Answers 3


As you probably noticed in the trailer - there is no one in those trenches. This is what made World War I so tragic. When front could be moved it wasn't because the order wasn't given. And, worse, the orders were given when the attack was doomed.

Now, the War of the Trenches was fought in that manner. One day the Germans moves 100 metres, taking english trench, then month later the English/French counter attack taken it back moving even into German trench.

This is what the scene invoke. That they are in english-made trench previously occupied by Germans, now vacant. The longer the army stayed in the trench the more "naturilasied" it looked as each nation repaired and fixed them with their own methods. (From what I remember the English ones were more keen to use sandbags while the germans used wicker to weave the wall holders.)

  • Apparently the Germans added concrete reinforcement to the trench walls in areas too. Jan 22, 2020 at 3:31

They look the same because both sides are fighting the same type of war

When militaries are stuck in static trench warfare, there is strong selective pressure to develop defences that work, otherwise you run out of soldiers fairly quickly and you lose. Given the level of technology at the time, both sides would have developed similar techniques. That is why things look the same.

But they don't look that similar. From memory the Germans have used different techniques to shore up the walls (I think the german trenches look less makeshift than the allied ones and are deeper at least in parts). They are certainly differentiated by far more than the "street" names on the walls.

  • Are there some references backing your answer?
    – Ori Marko
    Jan 17, 2020 at 21:11
  • @user7294900 I'm basing it on recently having watched the movie and knowing about the history of the war. I'd include screenshots from the movie if it had been released and I had a copy.
    – matt_black
    Jan 17, 2020 at 21:15
  • british line vs german line
    – Ori Marko
    Jan 19, 2020 at 12:05

From memory: they are not similar at all, apart from both being trenches.

The British trench is built from wood and sandbags mostly. The German trench has concrete lining its walls. The main characters enter a sleeping area and are amazed by the size of the dugout and comment on this. They are impressed by the Germans having real beds to sleep on. Earlier we saw the British soldiers sleeping in the trench itself, or in a tiny excavation underneath the parapet.

I once read but do not have the source, that the explanation for the difference in trench quality was because the Germans expected to live in them for a long time, so make them slightly more comfortable. Whereas the allied commanders thought it bad for morale if the trench was seen as a longer stay.

  • But the OP is talking about specific trenches as they are shown in the film, not the historical differences.
    – Joachim
    Jan 21, 2020 at 17:17
  • 2
    and in the film there is a difference in construction between the German and British trenches @Joachim even the two main characters notice it
    – Pallie
    Jan 21, 2020 at 18:04

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