Review: Dunkirk is immersive, bold and brilliant
This was not what I expected but it was brilliant nonetheless.
I must admit that I did not know a thing about the Miracle of Dunkirk that Christopher Nolan based his WWII epic on.
An event of such heroism, courage and selflessness, the Dunkirk Spirit is still mentioned in Britain today.
The events that took place over a harrowing week was truly a miracle, where over 300,000 British, French and other Allied soldiers were evacuated from the shores of the titular small French coastal town.
Soldiers were pinned down by the advancing Germans and were sitting ducks on the beach as they awaited for help from about just 42km across the Channel. Because of Dunkirk's shallow shores, British naval ships were unable to get close. It was a flotilla of civilian boats that came to the soldiers' rescue. Small craft, fishing vessels, day boats and dinghies.
I can see why The Dark Knight director is so inspired by the story, giving us a brilliant survival tale that celebrates the heroic acts of many, setting this epic apart from other war films that generally focused on one hero.
This also comes across more of a suspense thriller than a war film - there's no blood, gut spilling, and severed limbs.
This is not another iteration of Saving Private Ryan or even Hacksaw Ridge.
You don't even see the enemy.
However that does not mean it is not immersive. Each bombing, each dogfight, each gunshot... you feel them all. Hans Zimmer's amazing score lends to the tension, and many times, I found myself holding my breath.
This is also best seen in IMAX as Nolan shot it using huge IMAX cameras and 70mm film (twice the size of usual format).
Nolan's ambitious story is told through three perspectives and in three different time lines - land (one week), sea (one day) and air (one hour). This approach may not sit well with some people, but the execution was a real film-making feat.
Cillian Murphy, and newcomers Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles convey the soldiers' helplessness brilliantly even without much dialogue. Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh also deserve much applause. But it is the excellent Mark Rylance who gives the epic its emotional core. His stoic determination to help by sailing into uncertain danger is moving in a number of ways and his performance should not be missed.
STARRING: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles
DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
THE SKINNY: British infantrymen are trapped on a beach and help is nowhere in sight. When hope is failing, a flotilla of British civilian ships come to the rescue.