Christopher Nolan‘s latest summer epic “Dunkirk”, soared into cinemas two weekends ago and has topped global box offices beating out that pesky “Emoji Movie”, which signifies that there is justice in the world.
With titles such as “The Dark Knight”, “Inception” and “Interstellar”, Nolan’s movies have always been hotly anticipated and this time, with an ex-boy band member completing the starry cast, 2017’s Dunkirk is no exception.
British troops have retreated to the beaches of Dunkirk, and are desperately evacuating as the Germans make their advance. Leading the cast is young unknown, Fionn Whitehead, whom we first see fleeing a besieged French town and escaping to the beaches, miraculously dodging bullets and losing comrades along the way.
Joining Whitehead on the beaches is One Direction’s very own Harry Styles, who puts in a convincing acting debut as a young soldier attempting to get home to Britain. Unlike Ed Sheeran‘s recent outing in “Game of Thrones” where the fourth wall was unfortunately broken, Styles confidently delivers here. “War & Peace’s” Aneurin Barnard completes the trio and despite minimal dialogue between them, carry the intense narrative effectively.
Unlike Nolan’s past work, Dunkirk relies on the story of the event alone, rather than complicated historical references and sentimental back stories. The key theme of Dunkirk is survival and the audience is taken to 1940 World War II through three mediums; land, sea and air.
Through stunning aerial shots, Nolan creates an immersive experience for his audience. We feel as though we are flying through the air with Tom Hardy in his Spitfire and we empathise during the tender moments where young, pensive soldiers are moved in herds as they helplessly await their rescue. Artistically, the camera pans across the bleak beaches to show the scale of the crisis facing naval officer Kenneth Branagh. Branagh’s character also serves as a tool for conveying the film’s logistical narrative as we gauge an understanding of the severity and context of this historical event.
Rounding off this British cast is Britain’s finest, Mark Rylance, as the patriotic every man who sets sail from the British coast to do his bit for his country. Across the channel, he saves the formidable Cillian Murphy, a ‘shivering soldier’ who desperately wants to get as far away from the hell of Dunkirk as possible. Conflict ensues as Rylance defies the soldier’s warnings and continues his risky plight towards the shores of France.
Amidst the hell of Dunkirk, Nolan has managed to capture a strong sense of ‘Britishness’. From the troops anxiously awaiting rescue and queuing in a very British and orderly fashion, to the kind nurse on board the rescue ships, handing out cups of tea with toast and jam. These small touches give the film the endearing edge comparative to Hollywood War movies in the past.
Teaming up with Nolan once again to provide the movie’s majestic score is Hans Zimmer (“Inception”, “The Dark Knight”, “Interstellar”, “The Prestige”). In my eyes, the true star of Dunkirk is this astonishing piece of work which forms the beating heart of the intense 107-minute feature. Zimmer expertly creates a ticking theme to this tale which becomes increasingly aggressive as the tension builds and time starts to run out. Only once the ticking stops, do we realise it has been subliminally consistent throughout the action. Due to the minimal dialogue that I mentioned earlier, the music becomes a character in its own right and presents the story to the audience magnificently. This is fine work from Zimmer- but then, we expected nothing less from such a Hollywood legend.
Christopher Nolan made a brave choice by releasing Dunkirk during summer blockbuster season, but the risk has paid off in abundance as audiences of all ages have rushed to cinemas to view the spectacle. Dunkirk depicts the horrors of World War II in a bold and honest way, leaving the audience feeling moved yet simultaneously thrilled. Nolan’s inspired work of art and should be seen and appreciated on the big screen.
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