Dunkirk – Movie Review


Language: English.
Release: July 2017.
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.
Directed By: Christopher Nolan.
Written By: Christopher Nolan.
Music By: Hans Zimmer.
Genre: War-film, Drama.

A rare gem that accurately depicts the historical events of the morale boosting victory of the Dunkirk Evacuation during WW-II and the only war film after ‘Saving Private Ryan‘ to have such a great impact on the audience.

Ever since movies became more of a cultural reference rather than just an entertainment medium, every passing generation produced a talent so captivating, they redefined not only the aspects related to media but the complete cultural and societal acceptance on the whole. When Jean-Luc Godard introduced jump cuts in Breathless, not only was it an overwhelming success but, it laid the foundation for the new wave cinema that revolutionized movies! The mass popularity and the cultural references of George Lucas’s Star Wars and Steven Spielberg’s movies are widely known, while James Cameron made Sci-Fi a household name. Closer home, we had the likes of Satyajit Ray, K. Balachandar, Puttanna Kanagal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal to name a few from the modern era who not only mesmerized the world to their mastery in the art of movies but catapulted Indian Cinema to greater heights. It’s a well-known fact that Christopher Nolan had already etched his name to the list with all his previous movies as a future legend, and now, with Dunkirk, the future has bestowed upon us.

Almost all of the Hollywood movies depicting WW-II, portrays the victory of the allied forces in general and U.S.A. in particular, be it military, strategy or moral while always portraying the villains as the Germans and Hitler, which in all circumstances is the right thing, but seldom do they show the ugly side of the war: the dangerous impact it has on the people affected by it and the stress the soldiers go through. Due to the lack of commercial interests, these aspects are usually the forte of documentary films, which, more often than not, are confined only to the people interested in them and never to the general audience. Nolan, who is known to break the very notion of stereotypes to make commercial blockbusters has given us another avant-garde cinema in Dunkirk.

In our era of technological advancements where CGI plays are prominent role than the actors themselves, Nolan still prefers to use reality over CGI and sticking by his formula, the air raids and cat fights were shot from the cockpit of the actual Spitfires used then, giving us the perspective of how the WW-II was actually fought. Both Nolan and the cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema have gone to great length to give us near perfect emotions the soldiers went through, so much so, it felt like we were part of the war albeit at the comfort of our homes. The other hero of the movie is the music by Hans Zimmer. His engrossing background score compliments the director’s vision of using minimal dialog and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, but at times is a little too loud.

Dunkirk has an unusual narrative, even for a neo-noir genre. It has the beginning, middle and the end, peppered with an intertwined screenplay. Narrated as a triptych with the three viewpoints of ‘Land, Sea and Air’, sometimes confusing the audience who are unable to comprehend what they see. The ensemble cast performed by relatively unknown faces also adds to some confusion. But by not being bogged down by the war room strategy planning and relying heavily on the visual elements with little to no dialog, the screenplay does keep us gripped to the story.

Unlike his previous movies Interstellar and Inception which questioned the audience’s intellect while coming out not just successful but as a classic, Dunkirk is easy on the intellect and high on emotion yet again coming out successful but turning out to be a classic is something of a question mark, which only time can answer.

Dunkirk is a fine movie, but it’s definitely not the finest movie from the great Christopher Nolan, although this has to be the best and realistic portrayal of a historical event that redefined the term victory in the context of War. As recorded in history, ‘Battle of Dunkirk was a loss in military terms and victory in moral terms’ as the lives of around 300,000 allied soldiers was saved which would in all circumstances have cost the allied forces the war and the world as we know it.

In conclusion, Dunkirk may not leave you spellbound or thought provoking, but it surely is a movie that cannot be missed not just for the general audience but to anyone who wishes to learn the craft of movie making.

Audience POV :
1. Superb Cinematography.
2. Sometimes confusing with the non-linear screenplay.

Critics POV :
1. A great movie showcasing the moral of war.
2. The art of movie making 101!


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