There’s no hiding from this son
Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan latest film about the events of Dunkirk, a pivotal turning point in World War 2.
Told from 3 perspectives (land, air and sea) this movie takes you straight into the action without any buildup and purposefully does not let up all the way up to the final frame of the film.
There has been plenty of verbiage and adjectives to describe the cinematography, the sound and editing of the movie but I want to focus on the characters and their dramatization or lack thereof.
There are some folks who consider the major or minor con of this movie as having no connection to the characters due to a completely lack of focus on their life or their history. Many movies depend on it and many war movies are defined by characterization of the antagonist and the protagonist the viewer has a connection with.
Dunkirk however is purposely anti stereotypical to this very method of conveying the message of the movie and these folks have not recognized it yet.
The 3 perspectives follow a multitude of characters each of which represent a collective summary of those who were in the air, in the ships and those who survived the beach. Dunkirk places the event as the main focus and drops the viewer right in the middle so they get a sense of what many of the survivors, rescuers and airmen went through in the middle of chaos and desperation.
Whereas each individual actions represent the individualism aspects of society, the collective summary of the sum of characters in each perspective represent the collectivism nature of the entire experience for the viewer. Some viewers need the tropes of individualism in films with a connection to the character that they forget the other aspect, namely collectivism is represented as well. They forget that the collective nature of experiences that the viewer is put through is so that they make a connection with the experience on an individual level.
For this reason alone many have been able to accept the experience because they accept that the event is a collective experience of many individuals where we see what all those men and women went through on a big scale while a few needed the individual connections with fictional characters to accept the notion that the experience was traumatic.
In the end the experience that Christopher Nolan wanted the viewer to have was that of seeing chaos and desperation of surviving a ‘loss’ and fighting another day. It was feeling what those 400000+ men. Individual focus would have been about the individuals and their stories and would have led the viewers to feel for them and not the event. This was about the country, the soldiers fighting Nazi’s and the lessons they all took from this event and fight back to victory which they did.