Dunkirk ★★★★★

An elemental, intimate and apolitical masterpiece; Dunkirk is a condensed look at war and a complex look at the humanity within it. So much is expressed in the smallest moments; isolation, fear, hopelessness, desperation and an immense level of physical exertion. But there are also a few powerful and lasting expressions of compassion, empathy and courage. Peter telling Cillian Murphy's traumatized soldier that George would be OK, despite knowing that he was dead, is such a beautiful display of grace. It's such a small, meaningful moment; and executed so modestly. It's so in tune with the rest of the film; a tiny moment of heroism that meant everything to a broken man. This is what makes the battle of Dunkirk such a perfect vehicle for Nolan to tell this story. A monumental defeat that's been rewritten as an iconic victory, not because of how many bad guys were killed but how many good ones were saved. Nolan's unsung talent as an artist is experimentation; his tendency to play with pacing, intercutting and time in the most radical ways. The fundamental irony of Dunkirk, these soldiers being trapped and dying because they cannot reach what they can see, makes this an ideal canvas for Nolan to work with. What he delivers is a movie that champions the power of loss; the manner with which we deal with failure and disaster; a powerful echo of sorts to Churchill's infamous speech that turned the tide of WWII.

Nolan
War Films
2017

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