Christopher Nolan’s most recent film Dunkirk puts viewers in the midst of the British naval evacuation of Dunkirk, France in 1940.
As a major history buff, Dunkirk caught my immediate attention earlier in the year with its vague but powerful previews, often depicting just one shot with brilliant sound featuring all the mechanisms of battle you would find in WWII.
One of the greatest features I noticed while viewing this film was the sound design. Nolan spares no expense when it comes to capturing the subtlest of details in the environment. The terror that the German bombers evoke when they appear overhead is astounding. The roaring engines really place the viewer right there with the British troops in the battle scenes, and when the action falls the subtleties of the beachfront become noticeable.
Christopher Nolan has a special place in the hearts of many as the mastermind behind the Dark Knight trilogy, and other works such as Inception and Interstellar. Perhaps the most notable feature second to Nolan’s scene composition is the score of his films, and Dunkirk is no exception. The soundtrack never lets up, always instilling a sense of dread and urgency as Nazi forces close in on the stranded British troops on the beaches of Dunkirk.
In terms of the story, Nolan chose to capture the events of Dunkirk through three separate narratives that intertwine and compliment one another. Tom Hardy Plays Farrier, a skilled Royal Air Force pilot who provides the birds eye view of the event. Aneurin Barnard plays Gibson, a young British soldier on the beach front desperate to find a means to get back home, providing the perspective of those on the ground at Dunkirk. Make Rylance plays Mr. Dawson, a civilian sailor whose service is needed with his ship to evacuate the soldiers at Dunkirk, providing the perspective of those that lead the evacuation.
These three stories compose the film into a riveting hour and 46 minutes.
Perhaps the most convincing aspect of this film was the lack of unnecessary dialogue. The film is set at the apex of the evacuation, where everything is on the line. In a war environment movie, I would expect the dialogue to be utilitarian, and that is exactly what I found in this film.
Christopher Nolan was able to take this historical event and craft three fictional stories that beautifully paint the setting and high stakes that took place 80 years ago.
By: Zeb Willey