Confession–I saw this film in July the night it came out.
Confession–If I don’t write a review within one week of seeing a movie I’ll never write one.
Confession–I’ve procrastinated writing this article despite having plenty of opportunities to do it.
So now I say my “Hail Mary’s” right? Anyway with my confessions out of the way let’s dive into this review of Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Dunkirk.
A Different Type of War Film…
You don’t have to be a film guru to know the Christopher Nolan doesn’t make junk. From his very early films such as Memento to mind bending odyssey’s such as Inception and Interstellar, Christopher Nolan has made his mark on the legacy of film utilizing multi-dimensional characters, involved and inspiring plots, and excellent special effects. His movies are the whole package. And while not all his films are smashing successes in terms of popular opinion anyone who knows anything about film understands that a Nolan film is a film that won’t be a disappointment.
Dunkirk is a film unlike any of the others in the Nolan legacy and by saying that I don’t mean that it’s necessarily his best work. What I mean is that it really is unlike his other films or really other movies in general.
Dunkirk is naturally based on the historical event that involved the evacuation of Allied troops from the French city of Dunkirk before Nazi forces could take hold. However, unlike most films that have defined characters with dynamic development, dialogue that moves the plot along, and general conventions of plot structure that make the story a cinematic experience. Dunkirk doesn’t focus on that–rather Nolan chooses to focus the events into a seamless and accurate portrayal of three separate timelines that revolve around the events.
Because of the heavy focus on the specific happenstances of the historical event character’s names are only mentioned a handful of times, dialogue is related primarily to the action and little character development is fleshed out. I think the primary purpose of this was to focus on the miraculous nature of the circumstances and the bravery of the soldiers present that day rather than detract from that using sub-plots that weren’t directly related to veracity of what occurred. It’s a unconventional yet brilliant strategy by Nolan to develop it as documentary that plays as a movie.
An Immersive Experience…
The film is pretty intense. I strongly believe that Dunkirk could easily win best sound-mixing at the Academy Awards this year. There are several scenes in which you feel completely immersed in the gunfire, bombing runs, and plane dogfights thanks to the engaging cinematography and creative sound design.
What’s odd about this war-film is that it’s not graphic like Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge. It carries only a PG-13 rating. Again, the focus of the movie is not shock and awe but rather an immersive experience that sends the viewer back in time to the experiences of that day. A lot of intensity is derived from psychological engagement which makes it a unique and satisfying journey. Every bomb dropped and every bullet fired brings a level of adrenaline pumping depth that places you in the very epicenter of the occurrences there.
If you need further confirmation of the immersive quality of it all check out this video of a 97-year -old veteran who was at the battle in 1940 and watched the premiere of Dunkirk. It literally brought him to tears.
In conclusion, Dunkirk is definitely worth the view. It’s a different type of movie for sure, given its lack of conventional cinematic plot and character structure, but it’s such an engaging and poignant portrayal of history that you’ll walk out of the theater with an incredible understanding that courage and patriotism are so powerful in and of themselves that the simple presentation of these of these qualities is where true movie magic lies.
Daily Diatribe Rating: 9/10
Once again I do apologize for the tardiness of this review. But Dunkirk is still in theaters so be sure to see it if you get the chance!