This Friday I went to check out Christopher Nolan’s latest Dunkirk and was blown away (no pun intended).
The theme of war has long been one of the hardest films to portray accurately in cinema. Steven Spielberg’s eponymous Saving Private Ryan managed to somewhat get through the message though, it does become slightly Hollywood-ised mid way through. Taking a far less patriotic stance, the latest to go toe to toe with the genre is Christopher Nolan. An ambitious choice given his track record of the absolutely gorgeous Interstellar, the head scratching Inception and of course the definitive Batman saga that is The Dark Knight trilogy.
Telling the story of Dunkirk, where 300,000 soldiers are sandwiched between the English Channel and hundreds of German soldiers closing in, from the word go the tension is absolutely ramped up. Pausing only for a moment of respite its relentless from there on. Taking place in varying time lines we see the battle from land (one week), sea (one day) and air (one hour). It is slightly confusing but the way that it has been put together was masterful. Following our new blood hero that is Fionn Whitehead who delivers a fantastic performance of Tommy, along with Harry Styles who also gives a brilliant show as Alex. Tom Hardy who mans the Spitfire’s as Farrier and his counterpart Jack Lowden as Collins and finally Mark Rylance who pilots one of the civilian boats who are sent to Dunkirk to save the men.
The direction that Nolan has put together is absolutely sublime. Simple cinematic tricks of using volume to associate the ear deafening of shells or the attack of gunfire. Nolan also uses shots that are often just as beautiful as they are bleak to paint a horrifyingly insensitive picture. Here lies the genius of the film, the fact no character is ever truly glorified (save perhaps Hardy), each character is just as important or as throwaway as the next. Something I particularly liked about Styles’ character is that in the film, he’s just a boy, he’s nothing. Contrary to what the Pop icon is in real life and that is exactly what it was like to be fighting in World War II. I can only imagine of course but this sense of uncertainty, this sense of questioning the reason of war comes through brilliantly. Showing the element of war that is truly horrific, the uncompromising idea of death and that everything could change at a moments notice. I physically couldn’t hold myself back at points. Coupled with Hans Zimmer ‘s (who I really believe to be a modern day John Williams) incredible score just ramps up the tension even more.
Moments where you think, theres got to be SOMETHING good happen here but there isn’t. Hence why Dunkirk has received all of this critical acclaim because it doesn’t downplay, glorify or sugar coat. Its cold and I will say definitely a hard watch that you wouldn’t perhaps stick on for a fun night in but my god is it worth the stress.
Go see it!