Dunkirk (2017): A War Film has never been as Beautiful as This

Directed by: Christopher Nolan | Produced by: Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan | Written by: Christopher Nolan | Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James d’Arcy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy | Music by: Hans Zimmer | Cinematography by: Hoyte von Hoytema | Edited by: Lee Smith | Production Company: Syncopy, Inc. | Distributed by: Warner Bros Pictures | Official Website


As one of the most anticipated summer blockbuster movie of this year, Dunkirk fulfill the hole that has been left by other movies: being a historical war movie. The most interesting thing in Dunkirk that you might not see on other movie set on World War II is that instead of glorifying the war, Dunkirk chooses of focusing on those who suffered it, or how they escaped the war, or in this case, came home.

Sets on May 1940 where the British and French were cornered at Dunkirk by the Germans, this movie split its plot on three different but intertwined subplot, set on different space of time:

  1. The Mole: One week before the evacuation (starts on 26 May 1940), young British Soldier named Tommy (Fionn Whitehead, I almost write his name as unnamed soldier as his name is barely mentioned the entire movie) tries every way he could to evacuate from Dunkirk and get back home. His unfortunate fate keeps on following him and his colleagues: Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) and Alex (Harry Styles, in a look that I finally know why Taylor Swift ever fell for him), as their vessels keep on sinking after the Germans blows it up. The lost of the vessels are the reason why the British Government finally activates Small Vessels Protocol, calling all owners of small vessels (yachts, naval motor boats, tugboats etc.) to help the evacution of the soldiers at Dunkirk.
  2. The Sea: One day before evacuation, a civil boat owner Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), alongside his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Peter’s friend George (Barry Keoghan) answer the call and sail to Dunkirk. They soon meet a traumatic and shivering soldier (Cillian Murphy), who insist they must return to England. Mr. Dawson refuses and decides to continue their expedition to Dunkirk. It turns out later that Dawson’s eldest son had been sent to war as a pilot but never returned, so Dawson decides to help as many people as he could in order to make anyone has a better fate from his son.
  3. The Air: One hour before the evacuation, three Spitfire pilots: Farrier (Tom Hardy), Collins (Jack Lowden) and their squadron leader are sent to assist the evacuation. On their way, they are encountered by several Germans bombers that has been successfully sunk the British Destroyer Ships full of soldiers. Soon after their leader was shot down, Collins plane is damaged and he ditches the plane at water. Collins is later helped by Dawson while Farrier continues to Dunkirk to make sure the evacuation is done, even it means he won’t have fuel to return home.

Just like the other Nolan’s movies, this movie is done beautifully. The cinematography is brilliant, since they use very small CGIs, so you can see about 300,000 soldiers lining and waiting for miracle on the beach, for real. Each actor also has done their part and feels like they were chess pieces that plays a game to win Grandmaster Nolan. The young actors plays their role with dignity, and you can see that their acting were real, as real as their seniors did. You can see despair in Whitehead, bravery in Glynn-Carney and even arrogance in Styles. They were the souls of this movie, and their contribution to the movie’s whole emotions are even better than the other well-known actors.

Other best parts of this movie are the intensity and the music scores. Nolan seems to know well that intensity plays a big part for war movie, so he builds it right from the start. He even doesn’t give us time to feel relax, and retains the intensity at the increasing level throughout the 107 minutes runtime. This movie shows that a war movie can be built without a very long runtime with addition of abundant drama (Yes, I look at you, Gone with the Wind). The intensity of the plot is supported wholeheartedly by Zimmer’s beautiful scores.

No gory scenes like the other war movies, but still you are suggests to not bring your children watching Dunkirk, even if he/she is a fan of Harry Styles. Please stick to the subplot timeline, otherwise you’ll get confused. Happy watching!


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