2017. Directed by Christopher Nolan
By Brian Wallinger.
Since the 1930's, classic war films have been envisioned as epic reenactment pieces based on historical events that have always been popular with both fans and critics of the genre. Making a war film can go a great many paths in its construction resulting in a finished product that either hits it's mark or falls flat and becomes forgettable. Director Christopher Nolan has returned to produce one the more personal and intimate features in his filmography. With Dunkirk, you find a very unconventional story based on the infamous Dunkirk evacuation, where four hundred thousand men found themselves hopelessly trapped behind enemy lines, completely cut off, and surrounded until civilians were called into action to perform a daring rescue mission.
The film depicts individual experiences from the event through land, air, and sea perspectives in a non linear design. Nolan almost totally ignores cliche exposition by cutting out most of the dialogue making the audience care more for the event itself and not as much for the individuals. Hans Zimmer's score at time becomes out of place and a little overbearing in its engineered production of synthesizers and a string section though at other times it fits, refusing to find a complete tonal balance with the action.
The real genius of this film is shown through the dynamics of dog fighting via Spitfire fighter planes that cover the escape from above. It is here where actor Tom Hardy portrays a RAF pilot up against the infamous German LuftWaffe. Talking helm of the sea's pivotal visual moments is actor Sir Mark Rylance, as a civilian fishermen leading the call to rescue the soldiers. Cillian Murphy provides a very minimal, yet powerful performance as a traumatized soldier on the verge of having a complete breakdown. Kenneth Brannagh is also a very minimal, yet key player to film as a commander rallying the troops on land to stick together and wait for the rescue boats to come.
There are times when the Lee Smith's editing becomes confusing and rushed, yet for the most part is very worthy of praise, as well as the gorgeous cinematography by Hotye van Hoyteman that is without a doubt Oscar worthy.
In the end, Dunkirk is a very good film and worthy of attention, however I found it to be not as great as I was hoping. Some parts become very flat as well and the script is somewhat repetitive. Christopher Nolan has written and directed a very brace film outside of his traditional wheelhouse and it is stunning to look at. While there's some great substance here, I felt that it didn't fully expand into the complete recreated epic film it wants to believe that it is, despite its very intimate atmosphere.