1940, World War Two – four hundred thousand British soldiers are stuck on the beaches of Dunkirk in Northern France – in front of them is the English channel and behind them the ever advancing German army. Unable to use their own ships, the navy conscripts civilian boats to save the stranded soldiers .Meanwhile, in the skies above two daring spitfire pilots (Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden) do desperate battle with the Luftwaffe.
Well its official – after seeing Dunkirk, i think its safe to say that Christopher Nolan is one of the greatest directors working today. After a year of seriously bad films he has single handedly restored my faith in cinema. In short Dunkirk is the best film of 2017 and may well go down as one of the greatest war films ever made.
A bold statement i hear you cry? Well lets just consider the evidence.
First of all the cast are all universally excellent. The superb Tom Hardy, as spitfire pilot Farrier is the epitome of British stiff upper lip, dispatching enemy fighter planes with clinical precision and clipped matter of fact dialogue. Kenneth Brannagh as a naval commander is another standout, plus Mark Rylance is simply brilliant playing a civilian (only known as Mr Dawson) who along with his young son sail their boat to France to save as many men as they can. Special mention must also go to newcomer Fionn Whitehead and One Direction’s Harry Styles who are very effective as two young squaddies trying to escape from the hell of Dunkirk’s beaches.
Then we have Hans Zimmer’s utterly amazing score – a combination of ticking clock-alike notes which ratchets the tension to almost unbearable levels and in several scenes even incorporates the music of Edward Elgar, so effectively in fact that i dare you not to well up with tears and burst with pure dyed in the wool British pride.
Its also seriously action packed right from the get go -German fighter planes and bombers strafe the beaches with bullets and bombs, an unseen enemy takes pot shots at an escaping trawler – however most impressive of all were the genuinely gobsmacking airborne dog fight scenes – one of which towards the end was so nail bitingly exciting that i nearly fell of my seat. Yes folks it really is that good.
However all this would be for naught without Christopher Nolan’s wealth of talent as a filmmaker and with Dunkirk he has created what could well be his masterpiece. Everything works here – the attention to detail, the unshowy but clever camera work, the use of Zimmer’s genius music at just the right moments, the stunning performances he gets out of his entire cast- all endlessly impressive traits from a director at the height of his powers, indeed one has to ask if Nolan is capable of making a bad film – on the evidence seen here i seriously doubt it.
As a conclusion i seriously hope Dunkirk does well at the box office as we need more films like this – stories of pure British courage in the face of insurmountable odds – i mean why not? Every war film for the past 20 years from Pearl Harbour to Saving Private Ryan has seemingly concentrated far too much on the Americans – people seem to forget that we Brits kicked some serious arse in the war and that fact is too often forgotten by Hollywood.
Good on Chris Nolan for making such a brilliant film – other directors take note – this man is your example.
Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek