Gilberto Says DUNKIRK Delivers A Once In A Lifetime Visceral Experience.

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FILM REVIEW: DUNKIRK

BY GILBERTO CAMPA

When it comes to World War 2 and the importance that it rightfully has in the history of the world that we live in today, there have been many, many movies that deal with the conflict in one way or another. Most of the time these films tend to focus on a minor conflict within the over arching battle or they just went ahead and focused on the end of the war and the steps that it took. But in some cases such as the evacuation at Dunkirk it isn’t always about winning or losing, sometimes survival and endurance are more valuable than any kind of victory.

Continuing his streak of innovative, compelling and game changing films (Inception, Memento, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar), Christopher Nolan returns to cinemas with his latest installment, Dunkirk. Set in the early days of the Second World War the “Miracle of Dunkirk” was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France which took place from May 26th 1940 until June 4th. In terms of the background of the movie originally Nolan had wanted to tell this remarkable story for a while after he and his wife and longtime producer Emma Thomas sailed across the English Channel to Dunkirk as Nolan then wrote the 76 page screenplay. The remarkable thing about this story and the script is that it is not only half the length that his usual scripts are but it is also his shortest movie to date.

Now when it comes to the actual film unlike most of Christopher Nolan’s movies where you have very layered and deep characters that help move the story along in a quick and satisfying way, Dunkirk takes those idea’s and reverses them in a way. But by no means does it take away from the movie because the whole point of Dunkirk is the remarkable and moving event and survival that surrounds this story, not the individual characters. Christopher Nolan explained this in an interview from TheWrap back in March of this year:  

The empathy for the characters has nothing to do with their story. I did not want to go through the dialogue, tell the story of my characters… The problem is not who they are, who they pretend to be or where they come from. The only question I was interested in was: Will they get out of it? Will they be killed by the next bomb while trying to join the mole? Or will they be crushed by a boat while crossing?

—Christopher Nolan on the main purpose of the film

What was mentioned above by Nolan is the most important part of the story, the survival of the soldiers in the movie, not who they are. That is why you should go into this movie with a different type of anticipation because that’s what Dunkirk delivers, a once in a lifetime experience that is very, very visceral. From the beginning you are thrown (literally) into a group of young soldiers as Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) begins his journey of survival as you instantly understand what is at stake.

Another important part of this movie is the SCORE, that may sound like an exaggeration but Hans Zimmer (again) delivers one of the most intense and powerful scores ever delivered to screen as it goes hand in hand with the structure of the film and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you keep on anticipating what is going to happen next. And a little bit of a fun fact, Nolan actually helped with the score as he provided the tool that helped provide the constant sound that is heard throughout the film which I won’t spoil. Going into the technical aspects of Dunkirk, it is nothing short of spectacular as once again Nolan collaborated with Hoyte Van Hoytema who did the cinematography on his previous film, Interstellar. The movie is rated PG-13 but there are many times throughout the movie where it became very difficult to watch what was going on, but I didn’t want to look away, the combination of the practical effects and the overall direction of Nolan keeps you enthralled and focused at all times.

You may hear that you should see certain movies in IMAX but for Dunkirk, it is REQUIRED that you experience this movie in IMAX as it will stay with you for a long time. And lastly, even though the story is more important than the individual characters they didn’t just put anyone in the movie. Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Sir Mark Rylance, Jack Lowden and a good first performance from Harry Styles all provide good performances as they help to bring some familiarity to the characters that they play.

Overall, I really enjoyed Dunkirk being the history buff that I am, besides the fact that Nolan is one of my favorite filmmakers. Yes, I can see that people could be divided on Dunkirk as it may not be a movie for everyone, but putting any kind of Bias aside, I would say go and check this movie out. Yes, it’s not Nolan’s most complex movie nor should it have been, but even though the events in this movie are very real a lot of the characters were mostly fictionalized based off stories and reports which is amazing to hear especially after seeing how it turned out. So, like Nolan frequently does in changing the genre and turning it on its head, with Dunkirk he has given us an original and almost documentary style of  war movie that is driven by emotion and hope.

 

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