Let me begin by saying that in my opinion I don’t believe Dunkirk is an actual war film, as many other critics have stated, but more a WAR EXPERIENCE film as it depicts the challenges, the emotions and all aspects of the invasion on Dunkirk.
The film opens on the land (one of three solid settings) in which we meet a barrage of soldiers all running from gunfire, this is where we are introduced to new actor and the identified lead Actor, Fionn Whitehead, whom I believe here makes an amazing debut with his subtle facial expressions and great deliverance from the little dialogue spoken. The film itself stands as masterpiece in silence in which it works masterfully with both action and emotions as every bullet fired and bomb explosion adds to the intense direction from Christopher Nolan himself and I feel that the lack of storyline also adds to the realism of the war and battle that happened. As well as the tense and almost apocalyptic atmosphere of the film itself is the breathtaking cinematography throughout, from Interstellar alum Hoyt Van Hoytema, whom I believe is a frontrunner for the Oscar this year unless Roger Deakins has anything to say about it. As well as the masterful direction and cinematography, the editing and pacing works well in part of all the destruction and fury of the war but the only criticism is that some of the scenes are cut too soon in parts and take the emotion away from myself as a viewer as some of the scenes juxtapose badly and felt too long in places but overall I felt the pacing worked well with the silence and sweeping camera movements and the one thing I adored about the editing was that it didn’t include the ‘showy’ and fast paced editing of a regular war film, which I believe made this film so unique.
The film takes place within three locations; Earth, Land and Sea and is based over a week within the battle in which the land scenes take place, whereas the boat scenes with Mark Rylance, who gives one of the better performances in the film, take place within a day of that week and the Sky scenes with the spitfires with Tom Hardy leading these scenes take place within an hour of the same day. I believe that these solid locations cover all aspects of the battle on the beach and all the characters involved. The time frames, in which Christopher Nolan is famed for, also make sense for the film overall. These scenes, the characters and intensity of the overall film are accompanied by a phenomenal score from the famed and accoladed Mr. Hans Zimmer who has produced one of the best scores in recent memory and I’m really vouching for him to win his second Oscar.
As well as the Score for the sound aspect of the film the sound design in mixing and editing are also breathtaking and immersing as they tended to be subdued then revert to being immensely loud and believe that they would sound even more amazing if I’d have watched it in its IMAX form. The visual effects were also fantastic and most of them were practical, as Nolan is also famed for this, which I felt gave the film a sense of realism and put me on the beach in 1940, but I did feel that even though it was a blockbuster the film looked like a blockbuster which I aren’t really a fan of and tend to criticise Nolan as a filmmaker because of this.
I felt that the film overall was a great feat in the making of a unique war film because of its silence, intense and sometimes apocalyptic atmosphere as well as its amazing sound design, cinematography and slow paced editing but I wouldn’t yet call it masterpiece myself as an overall film as I felt the characters could have been structured more, the emotions heightened and have more exposure as well as featuring more research and facts about the events taken place.
I would give this film a 9/10 overall