unkirk is ambitious and monumental film making, but director Christopher Nolan handles it magnificently bring an unconventional stunning war movie.
It tell us of the evacuation of our allied soldiers stranded on the beaches of France during world war II, close to 400'000 men were cut off and surrounded by the approaching German army with only days to escape, but unlike saving private Ryan or hacksaw ridge, Dunkirk never lingers on gruesome shots of mangled corpses to convey the horror of war, in fact horror isn't quite the right word, Dunkirk evokes then sheer terror of it all, the huge abstract forces surrounding and threatening to swallow the lives of ordinary people.
Moments of eerie silence are violently broken by thunderous walls or noise, the sound design is incredible and I spent the entire scenes forcibly pressed between my seat. This is only intensified by Hans Zimmer colossal score, which plays a crucial role in making it feel so suspenseful, but amidst the sound and fury Dunkirk possess a quietness too.
There can't be more than a hand full of pages of duologue scattered within its 160 minutes screen time. It's a bold decision creating the starkness creating this level of and character, but it never bothered me in the slightest. Nolan instead chooses to focus on the immediacy of the situation, characters never reveal to their peers of tales of back home or arouse them with perfectly measured speeches, and they are terrified young men not much older than boys trying to reach home.
The actors do brilliantly with little in the way of dialogue, relative unknowns are compelling, with harry styles handling more of the dramatic scenes which he handles capably, the young cast is shored up with memorable performances by Kenneth Branagh navy commander, and Tom Hardy ace RAF piolet, but the stand out performance is Mark Rylance as the quietly heroic mister Dawson who answers the call and sails his boat towards Dunkirk and into war.
The whole movie is breath-taking to look at with every frame artfully constructed, seeing it in the cinema is unquestionably the best way to watch it. The format creates a towering frequently overwhelming experience. As with Noland's previous movies time is hugely significant, events are seen from three perspectives, land, sea, and air and each one unfolds at a different rate, one week, one day, and one hour respectively and as the film progresses events of the young inventory men, the civilian sailors coming to the rescue, and the RAF piolets guiding them up above begins a dove tail of surprising and satisfying ways.
Upon first viewing this unusual structure occasionally creates moments of passing confusion, a couple of times I wasn't sure if I was witnessing a new event or a familiar one from a different angle, it's not a judge problem bit more of a slight stutter, and forgivable for the larger effect it creates. Pressure and anxiety amount as you see these distinct time lines grow closer and eventually collide.
Dunkirk doesn’t dwell on the horror of war but instead successfully conveys the sheer terror of it all through both small human and thunderous scenes of conflict. This isn't a war story that leads to victory that's not what Dunkirk is about, it was a retreat and in glorious defeat the war would go on for 5 more years, but though its miraculous event Nolan and an outstanding cast are not only able to depict the terrifying overselling forces in play but the power of small acts of decency and bravery are those who survived.