*Originally written July 22nd, 2017*
Holy motherfucking shit! 2017 has been an insane year for cinema so far this year. From Trainspotting 2 to Logan to Baby Driver, it seems to be the year that keeps on giving, Dunkirk is another masterpiece to come from 2017.
Christopher Nolan is a director I love an adore. All his films have been excellent for me (Except Dark Knight Rises. Fuck that film), he's one of the greatest directors of our time and he's just delivered his best film since The Dark Knight and one of best war films ever made. I know this sounds like hyperbole, but I assure you, it is not.
Dunkirk tells its story in such a unique way, I really wasn't sure what to expect. We get the air, land and sea viewpoint of the events. The event in question being the evacuation of British and French soldiers surrounded with their backs against the ocean on the Dunkirk beach. We're told this through a variety of different characters and time periods that inter-cut throughout the week.
One of the things that had me worried with Dunkirk was its short run-time and lack of character and story. This isn't a film where you follow a fully defined character's story. This is an experience, a visceral, heart-pounding and powerful vision that Christopher Nolan throws you into the middle of. Being just over 100 minutes long also means this doesn't outstay its welcome, being perfectly paced. I was as surprised as anyone when this was announced it wouldn't border a 3 hour run-time, but it still feels like a full experience with its brief length.
Despite not having much to each character, every actor does a fine job. Even One Direction boy Harry Style's fits in wonderfully and doesn't feel out of place at all. Cillian Murphy is excellent as a soldier who is rescued from the ocean by an equally fantastic Mark Rylance who is commanding a small boat heading to Dunkirk to help rescue the stranded soldiers. Lastly, Tom Hardy is also great, even though his dialogue is a little muffled by his mask as he is a spitfire pilot. I would like to rewatch this with subtitles at some point.
Now onto the technical aspects. Shit. Dunkirk is a technical masterpiece. An experience like no other. Everything looks beautiful and feels real, the precision and realism on display is groundbreaking. It's not gory and violent like Hacksaw Ridge or Saving Private Ryan, but creates its atmosphere in other ways. The screen is filled with tension from top to bottom. The sound design is insane, see it as loud as you can. Hans Zimmer's score is one of the best of his career. The incorporation of a ticking clock into the tracks created some of the anxious moments I've ever experienced in cinema.
There's no Hollywood to this film. There's no over the top explosions. No "Fuck yeah!" moments when the good guys turn the table and win. It's just told how it is in the most realistic way possible. The dog-fighting might just be the greatest aerial battles ever put on screen. I loved the way planes didn't explode when they were shot down, they just start smoking and slowly smash into the water in such a cold and clinical way with no glamorisation. It's incredible.
This film is pure dread and tension. The German threat is always off-screen and simply referred to as "The Enemy", giving it an even more unsettling sense. The Enemy could refer to anything, that impending sense of doom, death or whatever you fear, but you know it's coming, making for such a unforgettable experience.
Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan's masterpiece. A unique, powerful war film that defies the conventions and brings some new, beautifully made and classic. Nolan, you are god. I think the Oscars can probably stop their search now.
Bonus points for the mention of Woking (The town I work in)
Dunkirk is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:
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