Review: Dunkirk (No Spoilers)

By Angel

Movie Description: “Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.”

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Experience

I’ve seen it, Dunkirk. It’s an absolute must see on the biggest screen possible! I had the privilege of watching this on IMAX 70mm screen and it makes that much a difference. I guarantee you’ve never see a war film like this, Christopher Nolan breaking boundaries for cinema once again. He’s the filmmaker of our generation. This felt very different, at times just like virtual reality. You feel like you’re legitimately in the movie. I wasn’t as emotionally connected as I thought I would be like I have been with previous Nolan movies, but still, masterfully made! One of his best looking movies most definitely. Let’s get started 🙂

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Story

From the first second of this narrative to the last second I was hooked. The feeling in my body was tense because of how visceral this experience was. The atmosphere of the story is without a doubt perfectly executed; I felt like I was in the ocean, on the land, and flying through the air. The sound was an essential part of this story and this had to be some of the best sound mixing I’ve ever heard, it was startling and felt so real! This movie grips my attention automatically as it started off from one out of the three perspectives in the abandoned streets of Dunkirk. Shortly after, enemy fire initiates the sense of chaos that remains for the rest of the movie including the two other perspectives, which are air and sea.

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Nolan decided to tell this epic event in non-linear order, which was confusing at first for me because it kept jumping back and forth between climatic intervals. I didn’t understand why he needed to tell it this way, although still handled with intellectual expertise. I then comprehended why he chose this way to do it and it was to make me feel disordered, to emphasize that chaotic nature of war. It kept me engaged, but I did feel some disconnection emotionally with the characters, which I usually never do with Nolan movies. The reason I believe I had that disconnection is because they all had a minimal amount of backstory, they were anonymous protagonists. I was definitely rooting for them; some needed to survive, others were rescuing, and the rest were fighting. I wanted to know more about them, which made them captivating.

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Because the perception of time was jumping back and forth between events, I felt it took my time away from getting to know the characters as much as I could of. That characters weren’t the main the focus here in the story, Nolan chose to tell it this way to immerse us completely. His priority felt like he wanted to give me a simulation of what it was like in those situations rather than just have me watch the story like most war films do. As a result, that’s why there is a small amount of dialogue, which is extremely rare in cinema today especially for a film made at this scale. The plot structure is simply refreshing and innovative!

Performances

Kenneth Branagh as Commander Bolton moved me. He really brought out the Dunkirk spirit for me even though I’m American. The emotions were all in his eyes and facial expressions. There was one specific scene where his vulnerability revealed a hidden emotion within the movie and himself which was the feeling of HOPE. Hans Zimmer’s music comes in at the perfect time and it’s easily one of the most beautiful segments of the film, but it couldn’t have worked without Branagh. He showed me with his performance what hope and leadership looked like.

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Cillian Murphy is one of the most underrated actors ever, he’s freaking awesome! His accents are perfection. The performance he had to give was one of the most challenging because his character had a transformation and I had to be convinced that he went through an authentic change. He did it flawlessly and made me feel the heart stopping reality of war.

I really loved Mark Rylance’s character because he just wanted to save his men and bring them home safely. I wanted to be out there in the ocean sailing the boat with him. His performance was subtle, but it was the virtuous nature of his character that he had to embody which really stood out to me, that’s why I felt connected. He trusted his moral instincts and that showed.

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Everyone else was great, as expected in a Nolan ensemble. This was all practical so these actors had to fully commit to the environment that Nolan had re-created for them. Without their naturalistic reactions and behavior, it would have detached me from feeling like I was there, that’s why they did a fantastic job. Tom Hardy does some awesome eye acting!

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Cinematography 

To me, great cinematography is when the visuals are contributing to the storytelling. A film should SHOW us what’s going on rather than tell us. When it comes to analyzing cinematography, simply, I ask myself, “Was this film nice to look at?” Then I can choose to get in depth and look for whether colors were symbolic, placement of characters in the frame, composition, lighting, shadows, and point of view.

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Is Dunkirk a nice film to look at…..ABSOLUTELY! This is the best cinematography of 2017 so far, it’s one of Nolan’s most beautiful looking films. It’s jaw dropping. 70% of this film is the full IMAX format and it’s honestly one of the most gorgeous ways to watch a movie. The placement of the cameras were ingenious as it gave me the closest possible look at the subjects in frame. I couldn’t keep my eyes of the screen, it was virtual reality without the goggles.

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Music 

Hans Zimmer The God Of Music made the soundtrack. The music in the movie gave me chills, anxiety, and happiness. It captured the peril atmosphere of war wonderfully. It’s legendary, listen for yourselves!

Themes

The lessons I got from Dunkirk: War is horrendous, individuals who are in war physically/mentally are worth saving, don’t you dare ever surrender, and there is always hope!

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Overall

I loved this movie. I was blown away once again by Christopher Nolan because he created this experience that I’ve never encountered in a theater before. The story is intense, the cinematography is as good as it gets, the music is superb, and the acting is fantastic. With all that being said, of all the Nolan movies I have seen, not including Insomnia and Following, this is my least favorite film of his. The reason I know it’s my least favorite is because I have more of an emotional attachment to his others movies due to the music, stories, and characters. That’s when I’m comparing them, but on it’s own, it’s still amazing. Nolan is cinema! My rating for Dunkirk is 9.5/10 🙂

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Grade: A

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