Roundstone’s review published on Letterboxd:
People who say the film is pro nationalism seem to forget the exchange Commander Bolton and his Captain have where they find out Churchill is not sending any more ships or air fleet, because he wants to save them for "the next battle." It's a little exchange that is never justified or critical of Churchill, but it is a moment where we realize that Winston Churchill was seriously okay with losing hundreds of thousands of lives if it meant that they could have the resources for the next battle. Nolan's Dunkirk is celebratory, but it also acknowledges war as a never ending machine, as a regime built on lives being lost just for someone's beliefs to reign free. Nolan is obviously on the side of the "anti fascist" regime here (as most of us would be), but this doesn't cause him to underplay the psychological and physical torments of war. And despite this, Nolan isn't on the side of the leaders, even for the leaders of the "anti fascist" groups.
If Nolan's film celebrates anyone, it is a celebration of the "little guy" (as Neil Bahadur said in his review). The celebration of the barely memorable soldiers, the civilians in their pleasure boats, the people who would get little to no respect or praise, while the leaders keep pushing their agendas.
World War 2 is perhaps the only war that had to be fought in this past century, it was a war to save millions of lives, to challenge toxic ideology, and prevent the world from turning into something ugly. Nolan, however, never cares to try to justify this war. In the moment of actual battle, names and status barely matter.
Hacksaw Ridge perhaps most brilliantly showed what war was, with a film entirely building itself up on the fears of war and pent up frustration and anger with the enemy and what they have done, until it was all released into something that seemed so horrific, loud, and over in a matter of minutes. I am not a big fan of that film, but I will forever admire how it handled that aspect of war. If Hacksaw Ridge can show the build up and release of war, then Dunkirk shows the most primal and elemental forms of war, through time, fire, water, earth, and air all coming together. That final shot made a lot more sense to me after rewatch. To show all these huge profound statements being made in its final montage in regards to these images, and then going back to Tommy. It lets us know that these images of sacrifice and defeat stem from people like Tommy. People whose ambitions and goals can be so simple, it is just to survive.
(Double post, as I just wrote it up now)