Nolan Fans rejoice! Christopher Nolan is back and this time he’s dipping into World War II historical events to give us that sweet tilt-y world that he loves to share with us. Nolan has been reported as saying he was thankful that he was given “an American budget for a British story”; and by creating Dunkirk with that idea in mind, Nolan uses a skilled, predominantly British cast and some clever tricks to tell his story and drive home the great tragedy that occurred to his nation’s countrymen and solidified their ‘Dunkirk Spirit’.
Dunkirk is a stunning piece of cinema, expertly crafted by an auteur that is in his prime; starring a collection of the very best of Britain’s current and upcoming acting talent. Before you say, “But I don’t like war movies…” this is much more a movie about the desperate actions humans will take to survive and what the very best and worst of those actions entail. Hans Zimmer returns to collaborate with Nolan once more; providing an intense soundtrack for the action with the sounds of ticking clocks, ominous clicks and moody, swoony notes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dunkirk receive nominations for Best Sound Editing and Mixing in next year’s Oscars race, that’s for sure.
Being a huge Nolan fan-girl I was spotting his particular troupes and ticking them off my Nolan Bingo Card. A couple to spot: the incredible tilting and revolving shots of the boats tumbling in the waves as they were torpedoed, throwing everyone around as if they were in a front loading washing machine and the surf pounding in at them diagonally, which definitely reminded me of the dizzying shots in both Inception and Interstellar. There’s a sombre frame of hundreds of helmets littering the beach at Dunkirk; and I couldn’t help thinking about the similar image of hundreds of top hats strewn around the roots of a stand of dark trees as seen in Nolan’s The Prestige. Plus there’s the way that the narrative itself is skewed into the investment of four different factions, whose actions ultimately bring together the final outcome of Dunkirk’s events; which is always a fave Nolan move, to bring together characters of different motivations for the greater good of the final outcome…I see you Chris.
Victor Frankenstein commands the effort to evacuate hundreds of thousands of British Soldiers by the shore of small French town Dunkirk, as Bane and Nikolai Rostov hold off enemy fire from the air; meanwhile civilian The BFG participates in the rescue as he scoops up Tommy Shelby from the waves.
Starring of course Kenneth Branagh (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein); Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises), Jack Lowden (BBC’s War & Peace), Mark Rylance (The BFG) and Cillian Murphy (BBC’s Peaky Blinders) plus Harry Styles, Fionn Whitehead and Barry Keoghan.
From the opening frames Dunkirk is absolutely an action film that wears its historical detail like a badge of honour, earnestly portraying as much realism as possible. Gloriously represented in IMAX Dunkirk is visually stunning; very seamless in between what is digital and what is live action and a lot frames just appear as beautiful moving art. Mostly the emotional sweep of Dunkirk is the underlying theme of panic, courage and cleverness in the face of danger and the incredible moments when one person’s small action can set in motion the freedom of hundreds of thousands of people.
Truly an ensemble cast, it’s difficult to raise anyone above the other but some fantastic moments exist for each actor to give their emotional pound of flesh to this depiction of war. Mark Rylance is the real heart and soul of this film and the oft talked about ‘Dunkirk spirit’. Tom Hardy gives an incredible performance that’s nestled in the physical responsibilities somewhere between Bane (The Dark Knight Rises) and Locke; as Hardy’s obscured face calls on a tour de four of eyebrow and eye twinkle acting, plus he’s shoved into the confined space of a Spitfire cockpit hurtling through the clouds for 95% of his performance. Kenneth Branagh gives a stoic performance on The Mole, overseeing as many of his soldiers to safety as possible and then pulls the ultimate good dude move at the end.
Thrilling, intense, moving and bursting with white knuckle action, Dunkirk is a welcomed addition to the Nolan filmography that excellently respects and depicts the lives and actions of the men who appear before us as celluloid spectres.
Have you already seen Dunkirk? Tell me what you thought of this brilliant biopic movie in the comments…
Feature Image via thepicreview.com