Movie Review: Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a small town on the northern coast of France.  During World War II, a famous evacuation took place with the British & French soldiers fleeing the rising tide of Nazi’s conquering Europe.

The movie of the same name, by legendary director Christopher Nolan, definitely brings the struggle, brutality and heroism of the evacuation of Dunkirk to the big screen.  Like other really good war movies, Dunkirk has a lot of action, and builds on the stress that movie-goers will feel while watching Dunkirk.  Unlike other war movies, there is very little dialog, and almost zero character building.  The main story is featured around several key people, a small civilian boat, an aviator and a few soldiers desperately trying to get off the coast of France, all trying to return home.

In true Christopher Nolan style, there is a timeline fracture throughout the movie, where different parts of the story are told at different times, but towards the end they all form together to create a cohesive story.  It doesn’t seem to be confusing, but you do eventually figure out that timeline for all the key parts and see them all line up properly.  Christopher Nolan is also a huge proponent against CGI animation.  Dunkirk is filmed completely with Imax cameras so all the cinematography is done with actual planes, boats and vehicles. The aerial shots were very well done by strapping an Imax camera to the wings of actual working Spitfires.  Among other props Nolan resurrected a long-retired French warship, the Maillé-Brézé, for some of the scenes as well.

The lack of character building might seem odd to people, but in the end, it doesn’t detract from the movie at all. In fact I feel it helps make this movie feel a little more realistic, as there is no love story, or backstory for the soldiers, we’re just watching the struggle of them trying to get off the beach of Dunkirk and make it home, while the Luftwaffe is doing strafing runs at the long lines of soldiers, or torpedo’s destroying the ships filled with them.

While I am a big fan of most movies, I do enjoy a good war movie.  My grandfathers were both involved in World War II, one with the British, the other with the Canadian forces.  While neither of them ever really talked about it other than to say they were involved, these movies bring me a little closer to the realization of what the time was like.  Dunkirk is full of drama, more than any action.  Nolan doesn’t build the drama at a slow pace either, but rather just dumps you into the thick of it right at the beginning of

the movie, and it doesn’t slow down.  There are sections where the pace dips slightly, but a scream of the Luftwaffe bearing down on the beach, or gunfire always brings it back front and center.  Several times during the movie, a timely explosion, or other loud event will startle even the best of you.  Several times during the movie Tali jumped, as did I.  It brings the realization of the movie that much closer to home.

Overall, Dunkirk is a really great movie to see.  I highly recommend seeing it on a large screen, as it brings the emotion of the movie to life.  Dunkirk will definitely be a movie we will be adding to our Blu-Ray collection when it is released.  I realize this review is a little short, but I didn’t want to dwell too much on this movie, and would rather you just go see it for yourself.


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