Christopher Nolan is easily one of the greatest filmmakers of the 21st century. The last film he made was Interstellar, the science fiction epic that was released in 2014 and received five Academy Award nominations. Before this, he released a series of highly coveted science fiction films such as Inception, Memento and the fantastic Dark Knight trilogy. Now he has decided to turn to a different genre: war.
Nolan is extraordinary at filmmaking and has made modern masterpieces. Despite only having ten feature films to his name, he has already guaranteed his works to be classics in the future. This is why even the mention of a new Christopher Nolan feature fills film fans with unrelenting glee, which is exactly what happened when the first development announcements of Dunkirk were released. This film is one of the most anticipated films of the year and its safe to say that film lovers and critics everywhere were not disappointed in the slightest.
From the get go, Dunkirk is an incredibly intense thriller and that is how it stays all throughout the film. We are immediately immersed into a war-zone right at the beginning and that is where we remain. For a film based on the events of Dunkirk, there really is no other way to shoot. Hans Zimmer’s haunting score and the sound mixing are also extremely important in making the film even more of a harrowing experience. Furthermore, Nolan doesn’t rely on war-film tropes to make an “emotional” response, he uses authenticity and intensity. Many of the characters in this film are left unnamed and you learn little of the past. There is no cliché campfire storytelling, no one stops to tell each other their names and the names of their wife and newborn child at home, for that isn’t what would have happened in the real event. Time is a very key theme in this film and none of these soldiers have time for any of that. Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles’ characters appear very frequently throughout the film and the latter is estimated to have the most dialogue, yet you don’t learn their names until the credits roll. This all works to the advantage of the film as we see the scale of thousands of men who are trapped in a horrific situation instead of focusing on a handful of individuals’ struggles.
The film is jam-packed with talent and showcases a lot of fantastic performances. A stand out is Cillian Murphy, who plays a shell-shocked soldier desperate to return to the UK. Murphy is absolutely brilliant in this film, along with the rest of the brilliant (and very British) cast, especially Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance. As well as some iconic and recognisable figures, Dunkirk also showcases some new talent. Notably Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles, who are both having their film debut with Dunkirk. The young and – relatively – unknown actors in this film are all incredible and bring so much authenticity and depth to the film.
Yet again, Christopher Nolan has made a future classic. The film is harrowing, beautiful and thrilling. He breaks down the three-act structure in an incredibly unique way and directs an incredible cast of actors in an authentic epic that feels like a history lesson as well as a mind-blowing spectacle in the best way possible.
Dunkirk Result: A