By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Everything about Christopher Nolan’s new World War II drama “Dunkirk”
From the haunting Hans Zimmer score and stellar cast, to Hoyte Van Hoytema’s striking cinematography.
With the exception of being showcased in the 1942 movie, “Mrs. Miniver,” a sweeping, heroic story of “Dunkirk” hadn’t been brought to the big screen until now.
Nolan, (“Interstellar” and “The Dark Knight Rises”) who wrote and directed “Dunkirk,” has said in interviews that making the film was a passion project that came about after he and his wife sailed across the English Channel to Dunkirk, France.
“Dunkirk” chronicles the epic rescue mission of nearly 400,000 Allied soldiers which included more than 200,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force, the British army in Western Europe.
They were surrounded by Nazi German forces on the beaches of Dunkirk, France.
The event took place from May 26 to June 4, 1940. It remains the biggest evacuation in military history.
Nolan takes a minimalist approach with “Dunkirk.” He’s limited the dialogue and instead focuses more on details.
This makes for a riveting and taut story that clocks in at a mere 106 minutes. For the record, it’s Nolan’s shortest film to date.
But believe me; you won’t be concerned with time while watching “Dunkirk.” Your eyes will be so fixated on every large and small aspect of this film. And there are many to behold. Nolan shot the film in IMAX and 65mm formats.
He eschews the typical Hollywood theatrics and overused CGI special effects here. Yet he really brings this survival tale to life from land, air and sea.
You witness very immersive, aerial dogfights and bombs exploding all with frightening intensity.
“Dunkirk” is told from three separate, yet connected perspectives/chapters.
Chapter 1, “The Mole” occurs over the course of a week on a pier as the stern and weary Navy Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh, upcoming “Murder on the Orient Express”) deals with the hellish, mass destruction around him.
“The Sea, One Day” follows civilian mariner, Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”), his teen son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney, TV’s “The Last Post”) and his friend George (Barry Keoighan, “Norfolk”).
They set sail along with other fearless civilians on ferries and boats to help in the search and rescue missions.
“The Air, One Hour” centers on Royal Air Force Pilot, Farrier (a terrific Tom Hardy, upcoming “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”) and his fellow pilot Collins (Jack Lowden, “A United Kingdom”).
They have one hour. Their planes are also running low on fuel as they fend off a fierce aerial assault by the German Luftwaffe and provide cover for soldiers on ground and in the water.
While “Dunkirk” certainly bounces around, the movie never feels disjointed. Each character has a fascinating story within a story like young troopers Tommy (played by newcomer Fionn Whitehead, TV’s miniseries “Him”) and Infantryman Alex, (a surprisingly good Harry Styles from One Direction), as well as an emotionally scarred soldier (Cillian Murphy, TV’s “Peaky Blinders”) who is rescued from a torpedoed vessel. He refuses to go anywhere near Dunkirk again. He has his reasons of course.
While danger and tension runs sky high throughout “Dunkirk, “ this is a war movie that also dares to be different in that there are no lingering shots of carnage and very little blood and guts splattered all over the screen. It’s even rated PG-13.
“Dunkirk” is every bit hard-core and sentimental too, not to mention a fascinating history lesson. I attended the press screening with my sister, a history professor--the toughest critic of all--and she was blown away by it.
“Dunkirk” is arguably Nolan’s best work in years. It’s not too soon to strike up the Awards season chatter for “Best Picture” consideration either. It’s a deserving, cinematic triumph.
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Check Out This Trailer For "DUNKIRK"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.