20 July 2017 | liam_robertson
An absolutely outstanding depiction of a truly horrific event.
I am always relatively confident that I'll enjoy the work of Christopher Nolan based off his pretty decent track record, however this gripping re-imagining of one of the darkest moments of World War II stands as not only some of Nolan's greatest work but one of the greatest war films I have ever experienced.
Dunkirk does not necessarily tell the story of any one particular character, but rather adopts the event itself as the films vehicle, resulting in an experience which uses its characters to portray the event rather than the event to portray its characters. This is presented through scenes taking place at different stages of the evacuation across the land, air and sea, creating a distinctive setting for each, but culminating in the same final conclusion. This being said despite Dunkirk's focus not necessarily being its characters, I did not find a single character performance in this film lacking or inconsistent with the tone or setting presented technically. In particular Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and debut actor Fionn Whitehead gave especially memorable performances consistent with the striking spectacle Nolan presents.
As is expected with Christopher Nolan's films the visual presentation in Dunkirk has few rivals, the set pieces are outstanding with the use of breathtaking establishing shots to highlight the true historical scale of the real life evacuation. Action is presented in a smooth focused manner utilizing a few precise shots rather than an explosion of two second jump cuts we have come to expect in modern day action movies. There are multiple sequences which portray the pure fear, claustrophobia and disorder present in those final weeks of the evacuation and it is this ever present tension that will keep you engaged for the entirety of the run-time.
However it is the sound design which truly made this production a masterpiece for me, delivering one of the most realistic representations of the terrifying sounds of War. Gunfire had a distinctly different tone to other films, being delivered with sharp crack, explosions where accompanied by a deep base and the famous 'Jericho Trumpet' made by the Stuka's presence be constantly reminded and portrayed the sense of helplessness present at Dunkirk perfectly.
This is only enhanced by Hans Zimmer's excellent soundtrack embedded across the entirety of the film. Alongside Inception, Dunkirk showcases the exceptional talent Nolan & Zimmer have for combining meaningful score with striking imagery to create a distinctive emotional response from their audience. Through the skillful incorporation of an ever presenting droning base, screeching guitar strings and ticking timepiece the continual sense of urgency and dread felt by those both on land and sea is enforced across the entire film by this excellent soundscape. As a result I highly recommend that should you be given the chance you experience Dunkirk for the first time on the big screen, as the combination of a cinema screen and encapsulating surround sound will leave you with a truly memorable experience.
Even though this is a film a majority will go into undoubtedly knowing the final conclusion, Dunkirk is an experience I highly recommend everyone consider, presenting a defining moment of modern history in one of the most technically accomplished and memorably striking ways, Dunkirk will undoubtedly go down as a hallmark in film-making for many years to come.