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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries

Dunkirk Review

The latest cinematic masterpiece from Nolan, both written and directed, it a surprisingly short film by Nolan's standards, with a running time of only 106mins. However, it certainly feels a lot longer than that. In fact, it's immense in every sense of the film. 70mm film, still being a strong advocate for film over digital (I'm very much the same) and this certainly proves that.

It's the first film Nolan's done that's based on historical events. The film being solely based around the evacuation of stranded British forces from Dunkirk, who were surrounded by the enclosing Nazi army. Operation Dynamo, the Miracle of Dunkirk, considered a military disaster, a crucial and pivotal moment of WWII that turned a tactical defeat into a moral victory echoing the pride of a great nation's people. The events that spurred one of Briton's greatest speeches from the then recently appointed Prime Minister, Churchill.

We get to see a viewpoint from land, sea and air, three stories very cleverly woven together which keeps tensions high. It tells the story of a group of British troops just wanting to get home, a civilian boat going to assist in the evacuation and the RAF Spitfires trying to protected their fellow comrades below from the engaging Luftwaffe. All of this intertwine together that actually expresses an interesting balance of survival and heroics.

Though it doesn't glorify war, and instead displays how horrifying war came be; but not in the disturbing sense. There's a subtle yet astonishing praise given to the men that both served and lost their lives during this disastrous battle. The film, though historical, actually questions the audience what you would do in such dire circumstances evoking understandings and compassion for each character.

Nolan went to town in doing his research for the film, quite literally which included a flight up in the Supermarine Spitfire and sailing across the Strait of Dover in a boat much like the civilian vessels did that day, taking him 19hrs to cross due to poor weather conditions. And it all paid off. The dogfights are some of the most intense and stunning aerial cinematography I've ever seen, having incredible perspective.

I think, lucky for me, I had no idea who Harry Styles was, and I think that a compliment to his acting. It was only until after seeing the film when people started asking me how his performance was, when I realised he was from One Direction; this being his big screen debut, and what a film and crew to do it with. It was also Whitehead's big screen debut, and like all the performances of the film, I couldn't fault any of them. I'm not sure whether this was part of the plan but I do know there was purposefully casting of young and inexperienced actors to portray the young, unprepared and scared soldiers stranded on the beach. Either way, it worked and I don't think the impact would have been the same using big names for everyone.

Hans Zimmer does an incredible score, and he seems to produce something wholly different yet strangely familiar when working with Nolan, this being their sixth collaboration out of the ten main features of Nolan. It's a partnership I really enjoy, placing Inception, Interstellar and the Dark Knight trilogy among my favourite scores. The building tension of both Inception and Interstellar are there but this time Zimmer uses a constant tick-tocking sound throughout; the sound actually recorded from one of Nolan's pocket watches. Though he wasn't alone in making the soundtrack and it's actually Benjamin Wallfisch's powerful, evoking variation of Elgar's masterpiece, Nimrod, that when hearing it, and even when listening to it now, it fills me with such incredible awe.

Technically, as a whole, it's a masterpiece; as a work of art, it's incredible. Beautifully captured whilst staying true to form, being able to convey the expanse of the sea, the distance they would need to travel home, the numerous and turbulent emotions among them, the want of survival.

Running Time: 10

The Cast: 9

Performance: 9

Direction: 10

Story: 10

Script: 10

Creativity: 10

Soundtrack: 10

Job Description: 10

The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for everything really.

98% 10/10

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