In the times of infiltration, mass abductions and the rising tension between nations to wage fully equipped war on each other, Christopher Nolan’s immersive World War II drama, Dunkirk is a needed horror to reminisce the ruthless consequences that a war incapacitates.
Shot with sheer magnificence on IMAX 65 mm, Nolan’s perspective of a triptych screenplay, is an idea stimulated 25 years ago while sailing through the English Channel with his wife. With minimal dialogues delegated to characters, Dunkirk’s tale of evacuating the ambushed Allied soldiers goes far beyond the yarn of jingoistic scenarios and stenciled war porn sequences. The film is a struggle for survival, where apathetic fellow soldiers’ corpses are pushed in tides to make way for the living ones. And though it casts some seriously talented dramatists including Harry Styles, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, it is not meant to be a narrative of any character or even war politics; there isn’t a single sequence where enemy situation-room packed with commander generals has been showcased on the screen. Yes, Nolan truly, and successfully accomplishes to draw a new tangent for a war-drama on celluloid.
The catastrophic scenario of 400,000 soldiers from Belgium, Great Britain and France encircled on a beach by the German bombing aeroplanes waiting to get evacuated by British navy destroyers gets viciously colder with the poignant background score of Hans Zimmer. In his sixth collaboration with Nolan, Zimmer has composed a clustered score filled with gunshots, tocsins and Nolan’s pocket watch flawlessly. The sense of urgency – the feeling of being inside a ticking time bomb – is masterfully achieved by the German composer. Although the German Nazis are the attackers, the film does not delve on painting them as antagonists. Rather the film immerses the viewer into the egocentric war circumstances leading to detrimental genocide and the destruction of families; insinuating the viewer and the world at large to value peace, at any cost. And that I believe is the film’s biggest achievement.
Though this being Nolan’s first movie produced on a historic event, with very minute use of CGI effects as compared to his preceding movies like Interstellar and Inception, Dunkirk is unquestionably a Nolanesque account with a silent and emotional, but layered storyline describing a war zone where freedom is in the air, atrocities are on the land and jeopardy lurks in the sea. To amplify the realism Nolan used 62 real naval destroyers, 1500 extras and uncountable cardboard cuttings to depict umpteen soldiers queuing at the beach. The unfathomable sentiments at every trap give viewers an experience of the unexplainable urge to watch the film again and explore the overlooked aspects to discover hidden meanings.
Unlike Dark Knight Series, where every dialogue of Batman’s noble Butler narrates a philosophical outburst in words, Dunkirk is mostly a 106-minute long wordless poetry. And the flawless performers who outstandingly expressed the poem through performances include multiple Academy Award Nominee Sir Kenneth Branagh, who enacted as a Royal Navy Commander and young English actor Fionn Whitehead, who performed the role of the main protagonist in the film, it is through the eyes of Whitehead’s character that the story unfolds.
The screenplay, helmed by Nolan himself, is a risky experiment which would have been nearly impossible for any other director to pull off. The three tracks – stranded soldiers on the land, Royal Airforce battling in the air and a British sailor and his teenage son’s ordeal to cross the English Channel in a small yatch to help bring the stranded soldiers home – are so brilliantly interwoven that it elevates the war drama into an immersive experience for the viewer. Each of these tracks is on a distinct timeline, merging them using intercuts, is the exemplification of Christopher Nolan’s unbridled belief in the medium of cinema and confidence on his craft.
The film is by far the best film of 2017 and possibly a strong contender, to bag this year’s best movie award at the Oscars .
A must watch.
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