Christopher Nolan does it yet again in his newest buzzing film, Dunkirk. Based on the events that transpired during World War II, the Battle of Dunkirk was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany and took place in Dunkirk, France- serving as the defence and evacuation of British and Allied Forces in Europe. Nolan combines his ingenious film expertise and script with his uncanny visual skill to make Dunkirk a highly engaging film from start to finish.
Instead of merely summarising the film, we decided to give you some real insight into what stood out to us the most… whether that be visuals, characters, history. Anything is fair game. So here you have it- our top 10 insights into Dunkirk.
- Fresh approach- When you introduce Nolan to a film plot, you can expect cookie cutter models of film making to go out the window. In the case of Dunkirk, Nolan breaks the time tested ‘follow a character/platoon’ approach that is applied to war films by splitting the storyline over different perspectives of land, sea and air. While this may run the risk of audiences feeling less emotionally invested in individual characters; Nolan allows audiences a unique viewpoint exploring the multiple storylines of individuals experiences of war and yet are all linked and influence the outcomes of each other. It is a fresh approach to the war genre, exploring the interconnectedness of life and war.
- Notion of Time- There’s a clever play on the perception of time. The film takes place in three settings: land, sea and air. Each setting throughout the movie covers a certain time frame for the duration of the film. The land portion takes place over a week, the sea over a day and the air over an hour. The changing perspectives and time sequence throughout the film create a distinguishable structure and keeps you invested… while slightly messing with your head.
- Hans ‘Flippin’ Zimmer- What can even be said? That man is a wizard who accidently picked up a conductor’s stick. As per usual, Hans delivers another masterpiece with swelling emotional builds and subtle interludes which weave throughout the storyline and bring it all together. We could listen to this man for days!
- Challenging Moral Dilemmas- The film presents a number of ethical and moral dilemmas which, in normal life, seem so ‘black and white’ and yet; faced with life and death paired with the gruel nature of war, suddenly gain a great deal of complexity. A perfect example of this can be seen where, when faced with a sinking boat and enemy guns above, one of the trapped soldiers Alex (Harry Styles), singles out another of the company to be sacrificed, in order to lighten the vessel enough to save the rest. This is met by moral conflict of the main character, who objects “no, this isn’t right…”, to which Alex replies “It’s him or us…”.
- Relatable Main Characters- The main characters in the film are presented as raw and flawed rather than heroes. Within the first ten minutes of the film, it becomes clear that the two main characters on the beach are far from the star spangled image and character of dear old Captain America. Rather than detracting from the character development, this representation of the soldiers allows audiences to connect with the reality of the complex decisions and moral compromises many good men had to make to survive.
- The Sounds- The sounds throughout the movie create a new dimension. The viewer feels every gun shot. The noise of the incoming bombers is so loud that your heart can’t help but thump. This adds to the effect because it makes anyone watching feel the urgency and peril of the situation. One unique element of the sound is the music in the movie. Employed like a ticking clock, it gets faster and faster throughout. The sound combined with the timelines creates a tension that is an absolute masterstroke.
- An Intimate Experience- In Dunkirk, the soldiers are left in the dark about the events of transpiring, and it puts the viewer in the same state. A plan for escape is never revealed, and there are not huge amounts of information about the war that is taking place. The audience is thrust into the world of the soldiers by only knowing and hearing what the solider in the movie know and hear. It reminds us of Children of Men or Cloverfield- where there is a massive story happening, but all you see is a sliver of a couple of characters thoughts and emotions.
- Undeniably Confronting- The film does not shy away from presenting the viewer with very real situations. The biggest question pondered upon was which character we would take on if placed in this scenario. The reality is there are countless people who have to face the challenge of escaping the horrors of war, and the confronting part is that the escape is not simple. The person you become in the moments of moral dilemma is how people remember you, and this is a thought the movie provokes.
- Not Your Average War Movie- Despite Dunkirk being a war film, it doesn’t fit the mold of a typical war movie. It’s definitely not a Hacksaw Ridge or Pearl Harbour. Dunkirk brilliantly depicts the horror of war with out being excessively violent. It focuses on the choreography of war rather than the graphics of war which contributes to the movie’s overall feel.
- Uniquely Immersive- One standout feature is the minimal dialogue. One would expect for it to be hard to be engaged when there’s few words, but this is surely not the case. Nolan does a great job of making the viewer become invested by placing them in the scene. For example, if there’s scene in the air in the cockpit of a fighter plane, the viewer is right up in the plane as well. It is similar to virtual reality simulation that creates a special environment for anyone watching.
We don’t know how, but Nolan has done it again. Make sure you go and see DUNKIRK. In cinemas now!