‘Dunkirk’ is a World War II film by Christopher Nolan which depicts the story of a French beach and harbour where allied soldiers were caught in a fierce battle, with nowhere to escape.
Christopher Nolan is a director who puts a lot of thought into writing and directing his films. He's a visual storyteller who cares dearly about the narrative structure he painstakingly arranges on the screen while treating his audience with substantial intelligence. For years, he’s broken new ground in cinema by tackling complex concepts with multiple layers that unravel with repeat viewings. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ‘Dunkirk’ is another Nolan film that will reveal new aspects a second or even third time around.
At the outset, this story is relatively straightforward – almost 4 lakh allied soldiers are stranded on a beach, surrounded by land and being picked off slowly by air bombers. They need to be evacuated by sea, but there aren’t many ships to ferry them off. It’s an absolutely harrowing predicament to be in, and Nolan captures the fear, anxiety, strength and bravery of those involved in equal measure. He does not politicise or glorify the notion of war, instead choosing to portray it for what it is – a complex game of survival, with little room for heroics. What’s astounding is his ability to do so with minimal dialogue. Arguably, any of the actors could be easily replaced and the movie wouldn’t be hampered. Each soldier, officer, pilot, general and captain has his own significant role to play but in the absence of emotional pandering, the entire event itself turns into the lead character.
His decision to completely abstain from CGI, and opting for practical effects instead, makes every gunshot, explosion and dogfight feel extremely real and potent. This is further accentuated by an unnerving musical score by Hans Zimmer that only adds to the nonstop tension. These elements combine to make ‘Dunkirk’ a purely visceral experience, especially in IMAX. While it is not for the average moviegoer – if you’re looking for a fun and mindless action flick there are other options around – it is the first real contender for ‘Best Picture', and a number of other technical awards. If nothing else, it is yet another landmark achievement by one of the most important and skilled storytellers in the present generation of filmmaking.