When I saw the IMAX feature clip for this film before watching Rogue One back in December, I just knew I had to watch this film in IMAX. Christopher Nolan is probably the most successful modern day director going today. He was able to establish a niche early on, then came out with a very well received comic book trilogy. He was audacious to go for a sci-fi film that turned out to be quite grand. Here, he took a shot at a war film and I think he has done very well.
Dunkirk is told in three phases. On the land, in the sea, and in the air. Each section is connected but the duration of time of each segment differs. The week we see on land involves a young Englishman trying to survive while along the way meeting two fellow young soldiers and being sunk by enemy German fire. The sea portion takes place in a day and involves a civilian boat that is run by a father and son and their attempts to rescue as many soldiers as they can from Dunkirk. The air portion lasts only an hour and follows a fighter pilot and his attempt to take down enemy planes while trying to ration the fuel in his engine.
Time is definitely a construct that connects each section in a non linear method. You can literally hear the ticking of a clock in the score, and its persistent. Speaking of the score, Mr Hans Zimmer has outdone himself. The score is ever present and it carries on nearly throughout the entire film. It never lets up and is at times majestic, tense, and absolute momentum building madness. The jarring sounds (especially in IMAX) is phenomenal. IMAX was able to heighten the experience. Every loud gun sounding off and every roaring plane is so precise, loud, and absolutely brings you into the world of the film.
The script and dialogue is kept light and its so great that way. There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue and there doesn’t need to be in this type of war film. Nolan isn’t exactly trying to build the strongest of characters. The film is really a cinematic experience. The long shots are beautiful. There is heavy use of practical effects and virtually no CGI. It feels so authentic, and Nolan masters the art of cinema here. The film introduces a few fresh faces and includes some familiar ones, even those who have worked with Nolan in the past. Also Harry Styles (who was surprisingly quite good).
I think this film ranks quite highly in Nolan’s work. I may need to give it a rewatch to see exactly where it does. I can see why people won’t enjoy it because its so different than what Nolan has done in the best. I for one, love the direction he is going in now. He’s become a bold and ambitious filmmaker doing what he thinks is write and not really pandering with this one. Its got to be one of the best war films of all time already. Definitely up to par with expectations.