Christopher Nolan's DUNKIRK
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
The world doesn't need another review of Christopher Nolan's DUNKIRK, but I was so impressed by this film I decided to write one anyway. Here it is.
Remember the stress, terror, and excitement of the docking sequence from the same director's INTERSTELLAR?
Most of DUNKIRK is like that. The major difference is that DUNKIRK is based on reality.
Be prepared for constant tension. By all means see the film on as big a screen as possible with a sound system to match. The music, sound effects, and Hoyte Van Hoytema's superb cinematography are also top notch.
Despite the grandeur and scale of what we see on the screen, we never lose sight of the people involved whether they are in the air, on the beach, or in (or under) water. Nolan's direction forces us to focus on the actions and emotions of the participants. This is partly because the movie ignores or avoids backstory and concentrates entirely on "the present" as time is manipulated by the director.
We are provided little information about politics, about why the Allied army is stranded on the Dunkirk beach, or about the larger war. What we do understand is that, if Dunkirk falls and the Germans then invade England, the world will be forever changed.
Well, we now know -- or should know -- how it all turned out. Those stranded on the beach did not know that. Nolan puts us there both physically and mentally. It's quite an accomplishment.
That said, did I "enjoy" DUNKIRK?
Not really. It's a terrific film to experience -- once. What I found myself thinking afterwards was that I want to read more about the events surrounding these events. There are many questions raised. Were efforts to rescue the troops really throttled in some fashion? How many troops were actually rescued? How successful, really, was the "citizen flotilla"? Were German air attacks as seemingly infrequent as portrayed in the film? Most importantly, what was learned from the disaster?
Also, be prepared for some confusion at how the film intertwines three different timelines: a week, a day, and hour. Nolan jumps around. If you're not aware of the intersecting time sequences right from the start, you may be confused at times, as I was.
That said, you will certainly be impressed with how far a Spitfire can glide when it runs out of fuel!
Review copyright (c) 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald. For a later version of this review published by aNewDomain, go here.