There are few directors that inspire such fanaticism and devotion as Christopher Nolan. Fortunately usually his name is worthy of such adulation. In my opinion, he hasn’t come out with a bad movie yet. His latest film, Dunkirk, is an unusual movie but in the end an amazing experience at the movies.
Watching Dunkirk reminded me of the Civil War reenactments that are popular where I grew up. People gather together to recreate a battle and while they have character names the battle is the important thing not the narrative. Likewise Dunkirk is a reenactment of a battle without a narrative to accompany it. I can see how this would annoy some viewers but it is executed so well that it worked.
Nolan splits up Dunkirk into 3 parts- mole, sea, and air. Each of these segments follow different people and are at slightly different timetables. This means you see the same boat sink 3 times, same plane get shot down 3 times etc. However, each time you are seeing it from different perspectives.
There is Harry Styles as a soldier on the ground looking out for a mole in their midst. Then Tom Hardy is in the air trying to take down German planes. And finally Mark Rylance commanding a pleasure boat to be one of the many civilians who aided the trapped soldiers at Dunkirk.
Of all the narratives I think Mark Rylance and his sons works the best and is the only point that made me cry. You don’t learn anyone’s names or their backstories but it still moved me the most.
Truth is Dunkirk is an experience more than it is a movie. It works because it is so well made and immersive. You feel like you are on the ground with those troops or on the boat with Mark Rylance. The sound design is so great it can be shocking that it is not real. It makes you want to reach out and help the boys as if they were right beside you. It’s that real.
All the performances are top notch and in pretty much every way it is masterfully made on a technical level. It was an amazing experience to feel war on such a visceral and intimate level.
However, often these experience movies are not the most rewatchable of films. I don’t think every movie needs to be rewatchable but it is something to think about. I don’t think it would have the same impact on the small screen. It wouldn’t be as immersive or real and I might start itching for more character development.
I recommend you go and see Dunkirk in the theaters, in IMAX if possible (the 70mm option wasn’t available for me unfortunately). It’s an experience you won’t soon forget. It’s not a narrative. It’s a reenactment and in that regard it is quite special.
Overall Grade- A-
15 thoughts on “Dunkirk Review”
We definitely share some of the same feelings on this one. It really left an impression on me. I’m actually really anxious to see it again. Possibly Tuesday.
Yeah, this film seems to be an experience and I’m hesitant about how I’ll feel about it. It’s less than 2 hours though, right?
What do you mean by “mole”?
A mole is like an enemy spy in their midst. Its an hour and 46 minutes.
Ah ok, cool! I disliked Interstellar and Dark Knight Rises and I’m getting Interstellar-type vibes from this movie, so I dunno.
Nah it’s completely different than those films. It’s really unique
A mole, as it’s used in the film, is “a massive structure, usually of stone, used as a pier, breakwater, or a causeway between places separated by water.” That was the two long concrete jetties the men were standing on waiting to be rescued in the land story.
It certainly is confusing. I didn’t understand the first time I watched, especially when the word as a spy is kind of referenced later. Kenneth Brannaugh refers to the mole a couple times although it’s ahrd to catch. The thick accents don’t help matters either.
Regardless, I LOVED the film. I saw it in 35mm the first time and then 70mm IMAX the second and the screen size made all the difference in the world. I saw twice as much movie in the second viewing.
That’s so interesting about the mole. I’d never heard of that kind of mole until your review. Thanks.
I’m so jealous you got 70mm. Closest one for me is at Grand Canyon 8 hours away ☹
Yeah that’s too far. However you can still see it in IMAX that isn’t 70mm.
Still so jealous of you. I did get to see it in imax.
I did see it in IMAX at least
Great review! Managed to see Dunkirk in IMAX over the weekend and mostly agree with your assessment. This film has great acting, great visuals, perfect sound and score, but there are a few elements that stopped me from truly loving the film. I won’t get into that here, but it would be awesome if you checked out my review: https://nerd-feed.com/2017/07/28/dunkirk-review-christopher-nolan/