Dunkirk is a war film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.
The Story/The Direction:
This film is inspired by the true story of the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II. Between 26 May and 4 June of 1940, over 330,000 British, French, Belgian, and Canadian soldiers were rescued after they werecut off and surrounded by theGerman armyduring theBattle ofFrance. The Navy ships were not enough so civilians took to their boats and sailed numerous soldiers from the coast of France to England to rescue them. While the characters in the film are not real people aside from Branagh's charcter who is based on James Campbell Clouston, the story and the struggle shown by Nolan was real.
Nolan starts this film with this group of soliders wandering around Dunkirk when they fired upon. The action then does not stop until the end of the film. Each scene is just as tense as the previous one that keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are a lot of scenes that go awhile without audible dialogue but you feel the terror that these soldiers are going through. This film's cinematography is absolutely amazing. If you are afraid of heights, fire, drowning, confined spaces, darkness or being left behind, you are going to feel it in this movie. Any shot of a view from the fighter plans, Nolan and Hoyte van Hoytema had me a little nervous. Seeing this film in 70mm IMAX format adds so much to these fears and more. It immerses you into this experience that will have potentially as close to the battle field that a film can provide. No matter the situation, whether you're in the fighter plane cockpit falling towards the water or a soldier covering his head as bombs are dropped nearby, it feels like you are there. What adds to this effect is the sound and Hans Zimmer's amazing score. This film is not particularly over the top when it comes to violence but you hear each gunshot like a gun was fired near you. Zimmer does a fantastic job to work with the scenes to add tension and though you know that a lot of the men will be rescued eventually, you still get the feeling that they won't.
This film is told through three stories: one of the air, one of the beach, and one of the sea. Each shows a different set of characters that give a different perspective of the war. However, this film isn't about a single set of characters that each have an arc and have "people back home," to get to. This is a survival tale of over 330,000 soldiers. Those are the characters of this film. There are obviously some that you see more often than others but they aren't the focus of the film.
While this film is a great specacle to look at, it is not flawless. Nolan makes a choice to not focus on a character(s) but rather look at the overall event that is the Dunkirk evacuation. Unfortunately, this choice makes it hard for a viewer to attach themselves to anybody in the film. You want the soldiers to live but it's not the same as the Saving Private Ryan. Branagh, Rylance, and Hardy do decently in their small roles that does give you the feeling of the horrors of war. But I felt the reason why I cared for them was due to their prior great acting performances instead their characters in this film. This successful evacuation was not due to one or two people but instead a group of brave civilains in fishing boats. Nolan wants you to feel the panic, anguish, and desperation of the grandoise amount of soldiers, which he was does well, but he sacrifices giving the viewers significant people to care for. I also feel the non linear story line was not executed in the best way and it was confusing at times.
This film was potentially one of the best experiences that I have taken part in at a movie theatre. The film tells a story of such grandoise that is a breathtaking piece of art from Nolan. Despite its lack of characters to really care for, Dunkirk is a beautifully made film. My overall reccomendation is hindered a little bit in that I would definately pay a little extra to see it in IMAX or 70mm IMAX if you can but it's hard for me to say I'd watch it at home. It's that big of a film that you need a big enough screen to appreciate it fully. Even with it's flaws, I admired the film as it told the tale of Dunkirk in probably the most epic way possible that shows Nolan's vision for a prime example of great filmmaking.
Rating: 4.0/5.0 bowties
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