Reviewed by Connor Kanto
“You can practically see it from here.”
Dunkirk is the newest film from writer and director Christopher Nolan. It is a war epic about the evacuation of British forces at Dunkirk during World War II. It is told from three different perspectives: the beach, the sea, and the air. That’s really everything to it. The story is simple and very straightforward. There are no Nolan twists or big punches pulled like at the end of Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, and The Prestige. But Nolan's touch is still evident in the editing (I won’t say what but if you have seen a Nolan film you will hopefully see it). It is a true story and Nolan knows that. Nolan said he wanted to make a war movie and he did. No stupid love story like Pearl Harbor or excessive focus on the home story like Hacksaw Ridge.
If you are coming to watch another Nolan character piece like Inception or Memento, you will be disappointed. This is virtually a silent film. All actions are shown through movement. But that's sometimes even harder to pull off than talking. So many scenes have just the score and background noise. But all the actors really work well and exceed expectation. The stand out for me was Mark Rylance. He is one of the civilians boating to save soldiers. That is not to put any of the others down, he just was the one that I will remember. This movie has a ton of unknown actors in it and they were all great.
But the cinematography is gorgeous too. Hoyte Van Hoytema is behind the camera for this movie and he has worked with Nolan before on Interstellar. Some of the shots in the movie are raw and gritty. You can feel the sand getting everywhere, the water splashing around you, and the heat of the fire. The most impressive part is how practical the film is. Shooting in Dunkirk, on a destroyer, in the air, and in the middle of the English Canal. If you can, see this in IMAX and you won't regret it. Dunkirk should be nominated for an Oscar and depending on the rest of the year, win for Cinematography.
Dunkirk is just like any other war movies' sound design and editing… top notch. You hear every bullet ping, every explosion, every wave crash, and every engine roaring. It is great. If the picture does not immerse you for some reason then the sound will. This Hans Zimmer score more than makes up for his mediocre score for Batman V Superman where Zach Snyder paired him up and didn’t give him full control. The score is almost constant throughout the movie and unlike Interstellar, does not overpower the audience. Like the cinematography will be nominated in both category and should win. Quickly the editing of the movie is great cut just like Nolan’s works before it and really is great.
My only real negative in the film is super small and can easily be missed, but the background in some shots on the beach shows some new inventions that I don’t think existed back in the 1940’s. But again, small and can be missed.
Dunkirk will hopefully go down as a classic movie and be registered in the National Film Registry. Everything in this movie shines with the Nolan attention to detail that has become synonymous with his name. With excellent pacing, great editing, stellar cinematography, sound design and editing, and great acting, don't miss this movie. This hopefully won’t be lost in the award season and will come out with some wins and nominations for almost every department. I implore you to see it on the biggest screen you can and if you can, see it in the 70mm film version instead of digital, that’s how it was meant to be seen.