Dunkirk is a film set in World War II about the Dunkirk evacuation when the Germans had Allied soldiers trapped on a beach in France. They are surrounded and desperate to get home and be done with this terrible situation. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan, which automatically makes anyone excited to see it. Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) is a solider on land and along side him is a French soldier (Damien Bonnard). Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his son, Peter (Tom Glynn- Carney) help out the navy with the evacuation along with Peter’s friend, George (Barry Keoghan). There are also two pilots, Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden), providing air support and taking out German planes.
This movie is purely about the experience of watching it. It starts right in the middle of what’s going on and doesn’t take a break at all throughout the film. The way Nolan shoots the movie makes you feel like you are on that beach and have no hope of survival. This might just be the best looking movie of the year, visually. the way Nolan uses IMAX cameras is genius. I can’t remember a shot that took me out of the movie, it was just all great. If you get a chance, see this movie in IMAX because it is the best way to see it. He also shoots on real locations, uses real ships, and as many practical effects as possible. This just adds to that tense feeling you feel in the movie. The sound design is also spectacular, some of the beast I’ve ever heard. It’s completely immersive, especially in IMAX. If the characters are in a ship, every sound is perfect, the gunshots, he waves, the German planes descending on the Allies, were all just pristine quality.
The movie also has an interesting element using time. I won’t spoil it, but at the beginning of the movie they give you some information. It is a little bit confusing at first, but as the movie goes on you start to piece things together and the whole film becomes more coherent. It reminded me of some of his previous films like Memento and The Prestige. However, this element does make the movie much more tiring to watch, because the way they use this does become slightly convoluted. It does give you a basic enough idea of the story, but it’s difficult to put the whole puzzle together.
The film has been getting criticism for poor characters, saying that they aren’t fleshed out at all. While that critique is valid, that aspect worked beautifully for me. If you are in this situation, you won’t have time to ask anybody how the kids are doing, or who they have at home. It is so frantic and intense that you don’t have time to make friends. If they spent time with character, I feel like the purpose of the film would be undermined. Almost every war movie is about characters, and most of them work very well like Saving Private Ryan. So, if Nolan had done a conventional war movie, then it would have been like all the rest. Instead of that, he pushed against the stereotype and made a war film purely about spectacle and experience. The one negative about this is that you don’t feel any danger for any one particular character. Like I said, you feel like you’re on the beach surrounded by Germans, and that makes you terrified for the British as a whole. However, the film puts certain characters in the forefront, and you don’t feel very attached to them individually.
I personally think that Dunkirk is one of the best movies of the year so far. It is exhilarating and sensational. You’ll hold your breath throughout the entire film. If you haven’t seen Dunkirk yet, I highly recommend seeing it in IMAX. It is meant to be seen with the biggest screens and the best sound systems. While it isn’t one of Nolan’s best movies it is still really fun watch. Also take into consideration, he hasn’t really ever made a bad movie yet. Some are better than others, but they are all good movies.
Have you seen Dunkirk? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Dunkirk stars Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan, Tom Hardy, and Jack Lowden. Directed by Christopher Nolan.