Director Christopher Nolan has been a force in film making for some time with epics such as Interstellar, Inception, and The Dark Knight in his repertoire. But nothing can quite prepare you for what he has achieved with Dunkirk.
The narrative of Nolan’s latest film centers on the evacuation of Allied troops, English and French, from Dunkirk before Nazi forces can overrun them during World War II. While it will be placed in the war drama genre Dunkirk isn’t a standard war film. It is a story of men trying to survive long enough to return home. It’s about human resolve and who people are in times of war regardless of whether they are soldiers or civilians. It arguably delivers the horrors and truth of war better than any other film ever has. It’s gripping, visceral, suspenseful and, importantly, a beautiful tribute to all who survived and was part of this moment in history.
Christopher Nolan proves a number of points with Dunkirk. The most important of which is that you don’t have to make a protracted war film with several dozen overtly gruesome scenes in order to make an impact. Dunkirk is spectacularly striking in its simplicity. And it is Nolan’s clear mastery of his craft that allows for Dunkirk to transmit its core message so exquisitely.
Another striking aspect of Dunkirk is its sparse dialogue. In any other film this would be criticized but Nolan’s filmed is scored by the marvelous and supremely gifted Hans Zimmer. Zimmer’s impactful score ebbs and flows beautifully throughout the film and swells in spectacular fashion on several occasions which flawlessly serves to bolster the most intense moments of the narrative.
If your expectation of Dunkirk is that it will be a full-blown war film with a central character driving the narrative, it isn’t. One of the most impressive features of Dunkirk is that it has no leading man, no Hollywood A-lister carrying the film because it doesn’t need it. Still, the ensemble cast combines well and delivers their respective performance in service of the story, never overwhelming the narrative with unnecessary discourse.
The cinematic brilliance of this film demands that it be seen on the biggest screen possible, IMAX if you can. The experience of characters trapped in sinking ships or underwater is vivid and impactful. Without doubt, Christopher Nolan has succeeded brilliantly in delivering a war film that is instinctively visceral without the obvious spilling of blood and one which hits you straight in the heart.
Dunkirk is an immersive and visual spectacle that is likely to leave you speechless and in awe for long minutes after you’ve experienced it. If you were on the fence on whether or not Dunkirk is worth a trip to the Cinema I have one piece of advice: drop everything you are doing and go see it right now.