This is an experience like no other. Powerful imagery and emotional symbolism made one almost weep, because the scope of this war-epic is phenomenally crafted. It’s a dark film for sure, but it serves as a glimpse of light over and over, with a forever returning theme of truthfulness to humanity. This, combined with the realism and empathetic feel to the setting that C Nolan masterfully has achieved – will make even the dullest being emotional.
Dunkirk is very different from Nolan’s previous achievements, mainly due to the very lack of character inside through dialogs. But, amazingly, we can still relate and understand their thinking through the surreal events and clever filmmaking. The scope is real. You feel the seriousness. You feel trapped, just like the young soldiers. This is done almost without any dialogs. The silence between the characters says it all. The ones that stand out from the pack of men are Commander Bolton, Mr. Dawson and Tommy; this is where most of the focus lies and where we get most character depth. The non-linear structure helped with this, it almost trapped the audience in a loop with different perspectives on the event of Dunkirk. And the whole movie is all about the event, not the specific characters. You feel like you’re in it so you care for the situation and the characters, even though you might not remember their names fully. All of this is very rare and not often seen on film. It really works in the film’s favor, and yes even more inside to characters could never hurt a film like this one. But this isn’t a flaw in this film. To relate to characters in this extent with so little talking – is an Oscar-worthy achievement.
To follow these characters in Dunkirk is an exhausting and adrenaline-packed experience with realistic action that you will not question. The realism is stunningly shaped. It might be one of my most surreal film experiences ever. Hans Zimmer’s score boosted the experience by tenfold, it got this “ticking” feel to it, almost like a heart beating faster and faster throughout the film – Zimmer is a propulsive force that never stops to amaze. The camerawork is just as stunning; you fly like an aircraft and feel the full gravity of the situation! It’s a smooth, stylish and artistic direction from C Nolan and ‘Interstellar’ cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema.
Some minor flaws do exist. The action is at a few places very identical as to what already has been seen in previous scenes, so it took the “wow-feel” down a bit. Some individuals will without any doubt attack the “too realistic” WW2 feel, because it’s not bold enough for them. But to create this movie isn’t about being bold. It’s about creating something real. And it is, very!
It’s an epic experience filled with realism but also small acts of heroism, kindness and forgiveness. Dunkirk is as action-packed as ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, and stunningly realistic as ‘Saving Private Ryan’ but with a bigger slam to it. It reveals the true nature of war, the men behind it and what the bigger picture of it can be.
Dunkirk is a visual and emotional experience that will take the gasp out of you. Period.