It finally arrived, as we are treated to one of the most anticipated movies of the year with Christopher Nolan’s movie, Dunkirk.
The premise of the movie, if you are unsure of the Dunkirk story, is as follows. In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.
Now, even before this movie was released, there was hot debate on Christopher Nolan. For me, he is one of these directors that you either really enjoy his movies or you dislike them. I have not come across anyone that is in between. A lot of his movies split the audience with their story telling, some claim they are thought provoking, whilst others find them over complicated and in fact annoying. I have personally enjoyed this so called Nolan phenomenon, Inception being a particular favourite of mine, and so I did have huge excitement for this movie.
To fully immerse myself in Dunkirk, I opted for the IMAX version, as Nolan films are always spectacular in their viewing and sound quality. I also went in, not knowing the full story of Dunkirk and its history. I left the movie theatre, still not knowing the full story of Dunkirk! That does not mean that I did not enjoy the experience and so I am going to try my hardest to explain.
Dunkirk is a fantastically well made film and is visually stunning. The quality of the IMAX showing, along with the sound, was second to none. During the promotion of the movie, much was made of the lack of dialogue throughout and how it was more about the action sequences. The action is not over done at all and in fact does a fantastic job of helping you to understand what it may have been like to have actually been there. I am not for a second now saying that because I have watched a movie, I can compare my experience to the soldiers who were there. What I am saying, is that the prolonged silence of conversation, would in actual fact be more realistic during those pivotal moments of war, then say any other war movie that has been made.
You are treated to a few of Nolan’s favourite actors as we are joined by Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy & even a short Michael Caine voice cameo. We are also introduced to the acting debut of Harry Styles, who I have to say did a fantastic job in his role. I would say he probably had the largest speaking role of the entire cast and he did a terrific job. One quote I have seen since is that Styles himself said he was unsure of the reaction he would get as he didn’t know what he was doing, however he had great fun doing it. Nolan responded with, that was exactly what he wanted because young soldiers who had been forced into war during that time, also would not know how to react during those appalling conditions.
For me, that really sums up the film brilliantly. Of course, Nolan tells an interesting story and everything interlinks throughout, as you would imagine from this director. What he does do brilliantly, is somehow transport you back to 1940, and for me anyway for the first time in a war movie, make it as realistic as possible. Saving Private Ryan has always been regarded as one of, if not THE best war movie ever made. However that film is remembered for the roles Tom Hanks & Matt Damon played and not necessarily the war and the soldiers themselves. Within Dunkirk, the lack of character development, in fact you don’t even know the majority of the characters names during the film, stops you from caring about the characters as individuals and forces you to characterise them as a whole.
After the movie, whilst discussing it with friends, I was not immediately drawn to individuals during the discussion and in fact took a second to think about what if that was me? What if I was drafted to a World War and how I would react during that time and my thoughts were instantly with the soldiers who have fought so bravely past and present. To feel and think like that after seeing a feature film for 106 minutes, was I when I knew I had just witnessed an epic blockbuster.
When you go and see Dunkirk, you will get out of it what you want to. If you are going to understand the whole of Dunkirk in exquisite detail, to understand the strategies used by both sides, then you will leave disappointed. If you want to fully immerse yourself into a war epic and gain the smallest insight into what it was actually like to be a soldier on those beaches, then you will thoroughly love it. Whatever you want to get from it, I recommend you go see this movie as soon as you can and treat yourself to the full IMAX experience.