Christopher Nolan is known for all his mind twisting cinematic takes on various subjects. Even with the dark knight trilogy he gave the audience something different from the usual superhero stuff we all saw till that point. The genius has arrived with his new war drama Dunkirk and in that specific genre Nolan puts his unique signature in a very emphatic way. With his dislike for using computer graphics making the visual experience a unique one, Dunkirk is a film that puts you right in the middle of the action.
During the Second World War, in the battle for France military troops of Britain and France got surrounded by the Germans on the beaches of Dunkirk. The evacuation of such large number of soldiers was an extremely daunting task for the allied force as the constant air force attack caused severe casualties. The film is about that event which is called as “Miracle of Dunkirk”, where more than 300,000 army men were evacuated successfully.
The event was never considered as a sign of victory in history. It was considered a miracle because nobody thought an evacuation of such magnitude would be possible. In his cinematic take on this event Christopher Nolan rightly focuses on the emotions that should be given more emphasis. He never looks at it as a glorious achievement. We get to see three perspectives of the same event and in all those perspectives the emotion that gets conveyed is the determination and thirst to get to home. The survival instincts of man, the determination to not give up in the worst of scenarios and the ability to deal with failures are the things we get to feel in Dunkirk. With visuals that show us the horror of the situation and the helplessness of the thousands of soldiers on those open beaches, Dunkirk is breathtakingly real.
War dramas are known for its brutality. From Saving Private Ryan to last year’s Hacksaw Ridge, we have seen the brutal depictions of bloodshed war zones. This is where Nolan brings in uniqueness and through his visuals he gives us the feel of the battlefield. The silent raw treatment in the initial portions of this film paves way for that creepy feel you get when you hear the sound of those fighter planes. By showing the visuals through the eyes of the soldier who is on the battlefield, the severity of the scene only intensifies. The emphasis is more on the survival instincts and determinations of those soldiers and to show that, Nolan uses almost all the main characters in the movie. The engaging crisscross edits of Lee Smith beautifully constructs the intrigue through montages and the sublime visuals by Hoyte Van Hoytema shows us the emotional intensity of the situation without spilling much blood on the screen. Hans Zimmer once again mesmerizes you with his epic scores that just enhance the dilemma and drama of the situation.
Fionn Whitehead plays the role of the British Army Private Tommy who is our perspective on the war field. The newbie was indeed very effective in pulling off that character. Tom Hardy hardly gets a chance to show his full face in the film, but I must say that the last sequence in which we finally get to see his face had that special vibe we get to experience in Nolan movies; a special silence before the climax. Mark Rylance shows his caliber by being that experienced guy behind the deck. There are several characters in the battlefield whose frightened faces stay with us and they were all convincing as those characters.
Dunkirk won’t fall in to the category of yet another war drama. Unlike the usual pattern of war based films, this one deeply dwells into almost each character in the film and that ultimately helps the movie in making us sit inside the theater as if we were also awaiting evacuation. Christopher Nolan’s cinematic take on the “miracle of deliverance” is indeed a must watch.
Christopher Nolan’s cinematic take on the “miracle of deliverance” is indeed a must watch.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended