‘Dunkirk’ Review: Christopher Nolan Creates A Cinematic War Experience

Christopher Nolan is one of the few directors remaining in Hollywood who can open a film on name recognition alone. After a string of successful films including, The Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, and Inception, Nolan takes on his biggest challenge to date with Dunkirk.

Dunkirk tells the story of  400,000 men left stranded on Dunkirk during the early stages of World War II. The Germans had the Allies surrounded. With every passing moment, the hope for survival faded. The goal turned from winning a battle to evacuation and survival. Civilian boats were activated as an additional measure to aid in the evacuation of Dunkirk. Nolan takes this historical moment and thrusts audiences into a cinematic experience unlike any other while using his unique story-telling techniques and fascination with exploring time.

Nolan doesn’t allow for audiences members to feel comfortable in their seats. Instead, you’re on the beach, sea, and air; audiences members aren’t bystanders. From the moment this movie starts, it builds tension, without any absolution.  Dunkirk is relenting with intensity and horrific imagery. As our characters continue to struggle for any moment of hope for survival, audiences can’t escape the unbearable pressure. Dunkirk is ultimately a story of survival and humanity. Audiences are left to question, what would you do in this situation? Would you break or help your fellow man?

Visually, Dunkirk is groundbreaking. Nolan is known for pushing the limits when it comes to visual and use of IMAX technology. Dunkirk pushes those limitations even further. Director of Photography Hoyte van Hoytema is a revelation and has created some of the most breathtaking imagery in modern cinema. This is an epic war movie. Hoytema captures the never-ending action sequences while exploring intimate moments.

Dunkirk features Tom Hardy, Harry Styles (of One Direction), Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Jack Lowden. This is an extremely realistic war movie. When it comes to our main characters, audiences aren’t given backstory. There are no conversations about dreaming of home or long-lost relationships. These are individuals constantly facing death. Their reactions mirror that unrelenting terror. Rylance and Branagh are clear standouts, allowing audiences to anchor into this film emotional with their subtle performances.

Nolan has become a blockbuster filmmaker with independent tendencies and art house inspirations. It’s not enough for Nolan to create a summer blockbuster popcorn movie. Due to the release date, Dunkirk has considered a “summer movie, ” but this film is an intelligent, white-knuckle, heart-pounding cinematic experience.

See Dunkirk on the largest screen possible and prepare for a war film unlike any other. Have you seen Nolan’s latest? What did you think? Comment below or tweet @lewischelsea21 and let’s discuss all things Dunkirk.

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk


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