After just a few days on the Silver Screen, Dunkirk (2017) has easily earned its place on our list of the best World War II movies of all time. To say that it is visually appealing is an understatement. And, at this point, it’s difficult to imagine a better tribute to the historical event.
Dunkirk is a war film with a contemporary and immersive feel. It goes beyond what people are used to seeing in this genre – gore. It brings you to that historical moment without having to drag you there, often unwillingly, through images of dismembered soldiers. Nolan proves that you can capture death and the horrors of war without having to result to such imagery. And that, we think, is part of why Dunkirk is brilliant.
It is truthful, harrowing, and disturbing – all without too much blood.
Viewers got a taste of the struggle for survival through inventive narration. The event was humanised, without being patronising. Dunkirk, historically, was a team effort. It wasn’t won by one hero. There were many, and to focus on one would have made this film just another war drama.
Lacking Character Development?
The most popular criticism against the film is the perceived lack of character development – not a lot of back story. There were no monologues nor families worried back home.
Dunkirk attempted to show the event from different points of view and with each flip of the storyline, as the narrative progresses, you are given all the information you need about the characters. None of the actors were under-utilised. They were effective in putting the focus on the events that transpired. Everything else was just background noise.
It captures the miracle that saved hundreds of thousands of lives and the blurred lines of morality and humanity when one’s survival is in question. It is real, it is epic. And quite questionably, Harry Styles is in it.
The Question that is Harry Styles
His casting did raise a couple of eyebrows, but his performance appeased us. Styles plays the role of a young WWII private effectively.
While he still has a long way to go when it comes to acting, Styles proved that it was not a mistake on Nolan’s part to take him on. In fact, his popularity brought in young girls who probably read about Dunkirk in school and forgot about it soon after. At the very least, the singer-turned-actor helped preserve a bit of history in the younger generation.
Tom Hardy, badass extraordinaire, plays a fighter pilot. Sir Mark Rylance, meanwhile, is a civilian sailor who answers the call for help.
Kenneth Branagh is an army official in charge of the evacuation. And, providing an accurate image of what post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) looks like is Cillian Murphy who succeeds in making you feel pity and hatred at the same time.
All in all, Dunkirk is a must watch – preferably on IMAX. Even veterans would agree. Its poignant plot, and the sensorial spectacle it treats you to gets Nolan the appreciation he deserves. There is also no doubt that this movie will make its mark and will be talked about for quite a long time. – The Binge
Photo from Warner Bros.