I have a confession to make. I was never really into history. Back in high school I found it dull and boring. I had never heard the story of Dunkirk. I never knew about Germany advancing into France nor all those soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. So when I first saw the trailers for Dunkirk in cinemas, not once did I think; “Oh this is history, I won’t watch it.” Instead, it piqued my curiosity and I wanted to see what it was all about.
Dunkirk is a war film based on true events of the Dunkirk Evacuation in 1940 during the Second World War. Christopher Nolan’s storytelling of the event is detailed and colossal. The story is nonlinear and is told in three parts; by land, by sky and by sea. This isn’t the first time Christopher Nolan has taken this approach of storytelling as Interstellar was also nonlinear. The nonlinear narrative for Dunkirk is effective as the film has such a sense of urgency, it feels there isn’t really enough time for us to get to know the characters. We don’t really know who the main characters are nor where they came from, yet we find ourselves stressing about who lives and who dies. The acting is solid by the cast all round as although we don’t really get to know their characters, we are invested enough to want them to survive.
The cinematography was impressive, but there were no special effects. Everything that you see on screen is real. Real explosions, real boats, real planes and the many extras to give the sense of realism. Because I attended a 1570 film IMAX screening, the explosions made me jump and I felt like I was there on the beach with the soldiers. I was frightened with them but at the same time fascinated by their order and discipline. Especially when all the soldiers were waiting in line at the beach and on the pier to board a boat. Had it been me, I would have shoved my way through! Like I said though, discipline.
Despite the faced-paced storyline, it felt like time had stopped and I was hanging on bated breath for most of the movie. A lot of these anxiety-induced feelings I felt during the film had a lot to do with the music. It was no surprise that Christopher Nolan had recruited Hans Zimmer to provide the score, and what a great score it was! With Zimmer’s assistance, I believe that this is honestly Nolan’s best work to date. Never necessarily telling the audience who is good or bad, Nolan focuses more on the humanity of the soldiers, their fear and desperation to survive. It is also a great tribute to the real soldiers and heroes of Dunkirk.
In conclusion, I’ve decided that my history teacher back in high school was probably just really boring as I’ve never been this fascinated with history before. If you’re a history buff, you will love this film. However, I would still recommend this film for those who don’t know that much about the evacuation of Dunkirk. There is enough action and intensity to hold your attention and you’ll probably learn a little bit of history too. If you are close to an IMAX cinema, you absolutely need to experience this film in 1570 film. Not only because it’s an impressively large screen, but it is how Christopher Nolan intended it to be experienced and I was completely blown away.
Dunkirk is a magnificent masterpiece and an assault on the senses that left me shocked, shaken and speechless. I’ve long since left the cinema and honestly, I’m still not okay. Wow.