Christopher Nolan is back with another summer blockbuster. The question is does this film live up to the hype and quality of his other films? Absolutely and in doing so Nolan cements his position as the greatest director of his generation.
The film follows three intertwined stories effected by Dunkirk. These are following young men stranded on the beach awaiting rescue, three aircraft in the RAF (mainly following Tom Hardy) and a civilian family who sail to Dunkirk to rescue the men trapped by the German Army. Each timeline has its own unique chronology. The story of the men on the beach lasts one week, the civilian sailors, one day and the RAF pilots, one hour.
This film is a truly special piece of cinema. In an age of sequels, superheroes and over the top action this film shows you the sacrifices of real heroes who faced unimaginable sights and trauma. It also viscerally shows how war can change someone and despite the impending annihilation of Allied forces, the determination and stiff upper lip mentality saw not only Britain but all Allied forces recover and win the war.
The film is relentless building tension. From the very start of the film there is that impending feeling that the lives of the characters we follow will be taken by German troops or the Luftwaffe. The roar of the engine getting closer and closer but not seeing the plane to the final moments is a masterful piece of storytelling as you don’t know if it is the RAF or not.
The dogfights in the air are spectacular. This whole film is perfect for imax. Using a variety of camera angles you get a sensation of what it must have been like as a pilot. The planes clearly buffeting in the the turbulence also makes these scenes feel real rather than standard Hollywood CGI, that in my opinion, has greatly reduced the storytelling in films.
The scenes on the boats going down are distressing and are uncomfortable to watch. But this is vital to the film. Younger generations are either unaware or do not appreciate the horror of WW2 and the sacrifice people made. Even these glimpses of drowning or burning men brutally show this.
The lack of dialogue is also a fantastic change to modern cinema. Much like the recent War of The Planet of The Apes its use of visuals, body language and music allow the actors show a different dimension of their craft. It also adds to the realism of the film as there are no heroic speeches that Hollywood loves.
I would rate this film 5 stars out of a possible 5. Once again Nolan has managed to create a film so immersive and different to anything out there. Instead of focusing on the battles that many directors would have, he shows the perspective of three groups of people and their incredible story.
Finally, a lot of the criticism aimed at this film for not showing more of the French army and other groups involved in the rescue are ridiculous. These criticisms showcase how critics and the culture of modern day life makes a mountain of a molehill. In a film that lasts less than two hours, to cover the fight of every different nationalities involved in Dunkirk would have been impossible. However, this film does show the struggle that everyone endured during the Dunkirk rescue through the eyes of British soldiers.