It is simpler to say that this is a cinematic masterpiece, both moving and intimidating. But it wouldn’t be enough to express what I have just witnessed. Christopher Nolan has delivered yet another brilliant feast that tells a great story in just the right way. At the end of the movie I had an urge to start clapping. Instead a smile played on my lips while I left the cinema and it carried me all the way to this review. I was swept and startled and intimidated by the history and how brilliant a movie can actually be.
Historical films and true-life dramas have not been as giving in the past. They have been heaped with inaccuracies and an overwhelming focus on the wrong subject matter. Christopher Nolan kept it light by maintaining a clear focus on the lives of the soldiers during this historical event. According to New York Times, and dedicated reading on my part, The movie is based on a campaign that began in late May 1940 in the French port city of Dunkirk, where some 400,000 Allied soldiers — including more than 200,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force, the British army in Western Europe — were penned in by the Germans. All the men regardless of age and station were faced with an imminent defeat so nail-biting that it can only be accompanied by the most heroic of endings.
The movie delivered just that. Throughout the length of it we hear the sounds with every breath and with every death we are invited to be part of the horror. The music takes us from bridge to bridge until you realise that the beating of your heart and a slight shivering is nothing compared to what the men endured. And that is the whole story. The men and women who suffered hope. This brings us to the most intriguing part of the film. The people.
Usually films like to take us through backstories and fictionalized love triangles and all other things that can sometimes cloud the objective. We didn’t get any of that with Dunkirk. There was simply a pilot acted brilliantly by Tom Hardy who should seriously start getting major awards for his work. There was a general. There were soldiers. There was a family. There were teenagers. And faces upon faces of men who without backstory or even a name, we grew attached to. Their emotions were devastatingly real. Every movement played on screen was felt through to the viewer. And all these heroic figures were placed in front of some of the most iconic scenes to date.
The cinematography was simply mindboggling and it left you desperate to feel every rhythm and see every line. It also left you feeling small as you sat in your lonely seat in that crowded theatre. You were engulfed simply by the story before you and the hope of great heroes. At one point I actually thought everyone was going to die and I resigned myself to that fate. It wasn’t like John Snow dying at the hands of his friends. It wasn’t like Han Solo falling from the love of his son. It was a movie experience that felt real. I was there with them, accepting death yet still bearing that shameful hope of survival.
This film is an absolute masterpiece and I am not so easily captivated…I hope. It is a must see on the big screen, especially after the disappointments of the past year’s outings. And its good to know there is still art in Hollywood.