Dunkirk ★★★★★

An eloquent, boldly structured portrait of the chaos and madness of war from roughly five perspectives; Dunkirk left me speechless. Nolan's prowess as a director is beyond doubt, he's a master. Dunkirk is ambitious, not only in scope but also in construction, as this film weaves in and out of past or present, loosely tying together disparate events with mere visual recollection. Exposition is limited to perhaps two conversations and some brief text early in the film; Dunkirk is about basic survival instincts and how people react in the face of overwhelming odds. But the key, the incredible feat Dunkirk pulls off, is that there is no blame cast, no preachy moralizing at all. Some of the heroes in Dunkirk face the odds with selflessness and bravery, some others with quite the opposite; fleeing from combat or putting their own survival before others. But if Dunkirk has a lesson, it's to give pause before labeling anyone a coward, and to more readily hail others as heroes. The Germans are never glimpsed, even for a moment. The enemy is an abstract fear, almost as demonized here as the circumstances that landed these 400,000 men on this beach, stranded without hope of escape.

Dunkirk is my third favorite war film of all time, just behind Apocalypse Now and The Thin Red Line. It's a flawless, masterful exercise in immersion and spectacle, desperately searching for meaning and order in absolute chaos and carnage still unfathomable 77 years later. A search for the meaning of life surrounded by the utter meaninglessness of war. It's an intimate, harrowing epic; a rare beast of a movie the likes of which I haven't seen before. Those fundamental contradictions are what make Dunkirk so fascinating, so stimulating both emotionally and intellectually. I don't really have the words for this movie, hopefully I can unwrap a little more following a rewatch. But on my end, it's safe to say Dunkirk is an all timer, one of the great pictures of our time...so good they may as well engrave the Best Picture statue right now and hand Nolan the Oscar. One of those rare movies that reminds you of the heights great cinema, and great artists, can reach when pushing boundaries and exceeding expectations.

2017 Ranked (at the top)
Nolan Filmography Ranked (tied with Interstellar at #1, for now)
The Greats (first from 2017)

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