Dunkirk Movie Review

Updated: 14 August, 2017 09:44 IST | Johnson Thomas | Mumbai

A survival film, Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' has the allied soldiers being cornered on the French beach by the marauding Germans in World War II. Technically speaking, this is also Nolan's most accomplished movie yet

Dunkirk Movie Review
Dunkirk poster. Picture courtesy/Film's Twitter account

U/A; Action/Drama 

Cast: Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, James D'Arcy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles
Director: Christopher Nolan

A survival film, Nolan's 'Dunkirk' has the allied soldiers being cornered on the French beach by the marauding Germans in World War II. This ensemble work largely chronicles the evacuation of English soldiers who got trapped in the harbour and on the beaches in late May and early June of 1940, with the Germans closing in relentlessly from all sides. And their sense of helplessness is immediately pervasive.

This is by far Nolan's most humanistic film where he showcases the individual efforts that come good and those that don't. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and music composer Hans Zimmer work out a palpably nightmarish scenario where sound and visuals combine to generate an oppressive climate of fear and resignation-one that hits you with it's inevitability. The old fashioned ratio and Imax sized clear imagery makes the experience even more constricting. So when a unique event is on the cards the focus is narrowed down to the singular, thus highlighting the individual experience of war. Nolan, also the scriptwriter on this pic, doesn't waste even a few minutes to get you acclimatised - He just drops you into the middle of the action from frame one and lets you squirm with apprehension while you are at it. While characters scamper to save their lives from the relentless bombardment of German might, we just watch on shell-shocked and overawed by the moments.

Extended sequences, expansive shot taking and a discordant score help keep you on the edge of your seats throughout. When you are watching it you are feeling it too. The tension is immense and the hope springs forth only when the civilian sailboats commissioned by the English Navy are sighted from the Shores. Technically speaking, this is also Nolan's most accomplished movie yet.

Leslie Norman's 1958 feature showcased this same page out of World War II but the experience that Nolan has created here is indeed one of a kind. Throughout the film , the enemy is invisible and unspecified. From being cornered in the open, shot at mercilessly and bombarded with precision thereafter, there's almost no room for escape except the torturous sea. And to think that home was just a few miles across... Nolan's non-linear approach, tightly held run time and detailing of every personalised experience in the battles across land, sea and air, makes you feel restive and unhinged. For Nolan the anonymous young teen who jumps onto a boat just so that he can contribute to the cause - and loses his life as a consequence, is just as brave as the beleaguered soldier running for cover in the hope of seeing another day. In a war that stretched for months on end, heroics' was about survival - living another day to fight the bigger battle ahead. Despite there being so much left verbally unsaid, it's still explosive. The sheer magnitude of this film's impact is simply breathtaking.

Watch 'Dunkirk' Trailer

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First Published: 21 July, 2017 13:00 IST

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