Dunkirk

Dunkirk

(2017)

When 400,000 men couldn't get home, home came for them.

Christopher Nolan's World War II thriller, with Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Oscar-winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies).... More

Chronicles the plight of Allied forces, driven to the edge of Europe - the seaside town of Dunkirk - by the German army. Hundreds of thousands of English troops are trapped on the beach, desperate for evacuation as the enemy pushes towards them. Picked off by terrifying Stuka dive bombers, their escape craft attacked by U-boats, it'll take the courage of Spitfire pilots and civilian sailors to get more than a handful of survivors home.Hide

Flicks Review

Christopher Nolan just can’t help himself. Even when stripping every ounce of fat off a lean, light-in-character-development retelling of WWII’s mass evacuation at Dunkirk (ok, one that was clearly also phenomenally expensive), Nolan weaves in an Inception-like multi-linear narrative that jumps around in time to focus on various characters. But like damn near every decision Nolan makes here, it proves unerring, allowing equal focus to be shared between three small groups: young infantrymen trying to survive one week on the Continental coastline; civilian sailors one day as they cross the English Channel to aid in the rescue of their countrymen; and Spitfire pilots a single hour in the air above their amassed, under siege forces.... More

From the get-go Dunkirk is a relentlessly tense affair, Nolan eschewing preamble, scene-setting, unneeded backstories, and devices like letters from home, family breakfasts, or mess-room interactions that are typically used to generate investment in characters. Instead, we’re dropped right into the action, tension, panic, and dread of the plight of hundreds of thousands of troops. Not that we ever see them fully amassed - Nolan sparing us from the now overly-familiar CGI camera flypasts that usually offer a God’s-eye view of proceedings, allowing the viewer to get glimpses of the scale of the scenario from the perspective of the characters caught up in it.

As the film veers between potential threats to sudden, elaborately-staged danger, the IMAX screen induces occasional, deserved, sea-sickness and also allows for maximum eye-popping in aerial dogfight sequences. Dunkirk’s cast superbly function as moving parts within the tightly-wound mechanism of the film, and you’ll leave thrilled and shaken by the scale of the real-life endeavour as well as Nolan’s cinematic version.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY cinemusefilm superstar

As the movie world erupts in loud applause for Dunkirk (2017) there is a serious question being overlooked. A defining characteristic of historical drama is that it leaves us with a better understanding of history. If a viewer knew nothing of the history of Dunkirk would this film make sense? In other words, does this film have a coherent narrative that explains what happened or is it a digital effects spectacular?

Dunkirk depicts three dramatised military scenarios that unfold in the air, on... More the ground, and at sea. Viewers must draw on prior knowledge to make sense of why 400,000 mostly British troops became trapped on a French coastline surrounded by German forces and facing imminent annihilation. The only hope to save what Churchill had called “the whole root and core and brain of the British Army” was to evacuate the troops across the English Channel. From fragments of talk between officers we gather that British Forces were unable to provide effective air support and troop-carrying vessels, so a hastily arranged flotilla of 800 British fishing boats and pleasure craft are sailing towards Dunkirk to save whoever they can carry. The action shifts frequently between parallel and sequential timeframes: in one scene, the camera is running along a beach, the next flying in a Spitfire sortie, then on top of or under a sinking ship. There are no prominent protagonists or antagonists, just archetypes of military and civilian personnel, both heroic and not. We follow a couple of young soldiers fleeing for their lives while enemy bombings and gunfire tear into their comrades. We meet a British civilian skipper who has answered the evacuation call and follow his journey across the channel to rescue soldiers from bombed ships and downed planes. We share the cockpit of a lone British fighter pilot as he fires on enemy planes to stop them bombing British troops on the beaches and on vessels, all while knowing that he is running out of fuel.

What happens in each of the film’s fictional scenarios is not the point: it is the totality of chaos and the scale of relentless carnage that assaults audience senses. When seen in high resolution 70mm film the spectacle is overwhelming. The booming soundtrack is repetitive and manipulative; constant percussive pulses and orchestral strings designed for only one purpose: to increase audience heart-rate. The dialogue is minimalist and voice recording quality in several scenes is poor but the action is all that matters. The scale of the combat scenes is massive and there are numerous scenes where the viewer will be disorientated, not knowing the good guys from the bad. But this is a pale imitation of what it must feel like in the chaos of battle.

This is hardly entertainment. If the director’s intention is to numb viewer’s senses with a 106-minute glimpse of hell then this film is a success. If it is to tell the story of Dunkirk, it just does not have the narrative framework to explain how and why one of the world’s biggest military disasters even happened. If it is to commemorate the Battle of Dunkirk, then turning the story into a massive digital effects spectacle makes a limited contribution to our collective memory of what has been described as the crucial turning point of World War II. Where it fails to illuminate Dunkirk history it makes up for as an immersive masterpiece of spectacle.Hide


Time is Nolan’s greatest cinematic obsession, just as in Memento, The Prestige, Interstellar, and the brilliant Inception, and in Dunkirk he expertly weaves three different timelines and viewpoints. A soldier stranded in Dunkirk. An RAF Spitfire fighter pilot running out of fuel. A civilian sailor making his way across the English Channel to join the rescue attempt.

With a superb cast (Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, James D'Arcy, Miranda Nolan, Aneurin... More Barnard), in which even Harry (One Direction) Styles makes an impressive debut, Nolan mounts an epic that plunges audiences straight into the action. Think the opening beach landing scene of Saving Private Ryan, only stretched out for the movies near two-hour run time.

Up on the giant IMAX screen, Christopher Nolan’s epic immerses you in the terror of war. Coupled with a great surround sound system, you’ll drown in the dread induced by this visit to the horrors of being trapped and surrounded behind enemy lines, and wish you’d worn your Kevlar underpants.

Accompanied by a brilliant Hans Zimmer score and Hoyte Van Hoytema’s stunning cinematography, Nolan’s script and direction have never been so masterful. Taught, tense, epic and unnerving, Dunkirk is a nerve-shredding visit to hell, that never shirks away from the brutal reality of war as experienced not by the remote politicians and generals, but by the soldiers, sailors, pilots and ordinary people, up against extraordinary odds. Brutal, blunt and brilliant, Dunkirk delivers – and then some.Hide


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The Press Reviews

  • This is a film without heroes or a straightforward story. The action is the attraction. If that means some of the film feels a little distant and chilly, it's in the admirable service of avoiding simplistic drama. Full Review

  • Effectively one enormous, stunningly rendered and thunderously intense set-piece stretched to feature-length, Dunkirk thrusts you into a pressure cooker and slams the lid on. Full Review

  • Haunting, thrilling and emotional, Dunkirk is a prestige pic with guts and glory that demands multiple views. Full Review

  • [Nolan has] found a way to harness that technique in service of a kind of heightened reality, one that feels more immersive and immediate than whatever concerns we check at the door when entering the cinema. Full Review

  • Britain's great pyrrhic defeat or inverse victory of 1940 has been brought to the screen as a terrifying, shattering spectacle by Christopher Nolan. Full Review

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