I’m gonna be honest with you. I hadn’t heard about the Battle of Dunkirk, or the Dunkirk evacuation, before the news of Christopher Nolan’s newest project arrived. After learning about it and patiently waiting for the movie, I finally watched it last weekend (and today!). My thoughts? Christopher Nolan is one of the greatest filmmakers ever.
This review may contain spoilers.
Dunkirk follows the story of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Dunkirk, France during the World War II. Written, co-produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan, the film stars Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, James D’Arcy, and Harry Styles. (Yes, you read that right). A longtime collaborator of Nolan’s, Hans Zimmer, composed the haunting and powerful score.
I may not have the eloquence of a film critic. To review all Nolan’s films would be my goal, but I haven’t even discussed The Dark Knight trilogy. I may not be able to judge films objectively all the time, but I’ll be damned if I don’t say Dunkirk didn’t mesmerize me. Don’t we wish Nolan could make a feature film once every two years? (I checked, Interstellar was released in 2014). I certainly wish that he could helm every DCEU movie, at least the ones that have Batman as the main character.
Dunkirk is the summer movie you need to see
This film is not like your usual war movie. I know you’re probably already skeptical, but let me explain. There was no drama in this film, not even an exposition. The conflict starts right up as soon as the first scene. I remember when I first watched The Dark Knight, the one thing that struck me the most was the opening scene: the Joker and his gang’s attacking and robbing a bank. It’s an action scene right away. With this one, it almost never stopped. There was barely a room to breathe. I felt like I was there, swimming and firing and gasping for air. This movie was an experience.
The plot was told in three parts: the Mole, the Sea, and the Air. It had a nonlinear narrative as well. But the whole film felt like a climax; while actually, it was far from victory as the event happened in 1940. At first, when I had just realized how it was not told chronologically, it threw me off a little bit. But I didn’t have much time to worry about the time setting. Like I said, it felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was so fast paced (I’m not even talking about the fact that this is Nolan’s shortest film in years) that I just wanted these soldiers to get home safely.
Every aspect of the film is top-notch
Christopher Nolan was the first filmmaker to shoot a feature film partially using IMAX cameras. And yes, I did see Dunkirk in IMAX, and boy it didn’t disappoint. The shots were stunning; one I remember so well is from one of the airplanes, overlooking the sea. The vastness and the feel of a hurry to target the enemy’s aircraft were intense. And it was LOUD. Goodness, the shooting and bombing sounded terrifying in IMAX. I must have jumped out of my seat a few times.
Also, the soundtrack didn’t help at all! I seriously think this is the horror movie I thought I’d never watch (I hate horror movies). Hans Zimmer did it again, and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack ever since. The film had a significant number of silent scenes. Accompanied by Zimmer’s piece, they produced a compelling atmosphere. The score sounded intense and terrorizing. Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer are the perfect match for each other.
As for the acting performances, I found no single flaw. But perhaps it is due to the fact that there was no single character that stood as the film’s sole protagonist. This film didn’t highlight the individuals; it showcased one story about survival where everyone worked together to be able to get home. Every actor got almost an equal screen time. I also noticed the voice of Michael Caine in the second viewing (found out only after seeing it for the first time).
I got really sentimental when the scene where the sailing ships arrived at the beach happened. It somehow sparked this patriotic feeling inside me, although this was not the story of how my country gained independence. As tears started to well up in Kenneth Branagh’s eyes, mine were almost tearing up as well. Dunkirk was not about victory, I know. But seeing those soldiers cheering when Tom Hardy’s character shot down the enemy’s plane, or seeing their faces light up after help arrived felt like a triumph.
Like I said, I got sentimental…
Maybe the fact that this film didn’t single out any particular character made it so impressive. It’s about everyone’s survival. Now I feel like we are all wasting our lives fighting for unimportant things. The world is constantly on the brink of the third world war (knock on wood). There are people dying in some parts of the world because of the same reason the WWI and WWII happened; one group fights for their own cause. “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” (points for you if you know where the quote is from)
(I want to add one more quote here from Mockingjay. Remembered it while I was watching this film for the 2nd time.)
“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self destruction.”
And Harry Styles was amazing, as usual! I didn’t like his character, but the acting was great! The face was great too! Glad that he made it 🙂 Harry Styles is an actor!
Have you seen Dunkirk? Let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: GIFs are not mine