zakary’s review published on Letterboxd:
"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender"
Dunkirk is a film that I greatly anticipated, due to the incredible success of Christopher Nolan's career and taking a particular interest into his incredible filmography and how he makes such powerful, thought provoking emotive motion pictures. The hype really started when I saw a snippet of footage in IMAX, and it took my breath away, and did it do the same with the finished movie?
Without a doubt.
Watching this film made me super proud to be a part of the British Film Industry, and looking upon these works is so inspirational and a huge driving force, Nolan blew me away with this film, completely and utterly. I hope to see this pick up a few awards, but it's early days as they say.
Sure, I had a few doubts going into the film regarding the runtime for starters, when Nolan makes a film, it's way over the two hour mark as he crams in everything in quick fashion, but this time it's layered, with a linear narrative so effortlessly executed to perfection, with hardly any dialogue it felt so much more impactful and I credit Nolan for making the bold choice.
100mins was absolutely perfect and it again shows how open he is to changing things around in terms of narrative structure and filmmaking in general.
The casting is very well done, Fionn Whitehead as the main character Tommy is good, but not as good as I would have hoped for. He's very good in the dramatic sequences, and his deliverence on Churchill's infamous speech at the end was absolutely beautiful, and sent chills all around my body. Surprisingly, my favorite was Harry Styles as Alex, a rather cocky, witty survivalist. He was great, and every scene he was in he really captured his character's intentions very well, even if some of his motives were quite questionable. Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Barry Keoghan were all highlights in their own right too, not forgetting Cillian Murphy's mysterious Shivering Soldier.
Where Dunkirk really hits, is the technical aspect. The cinematography done by Hoyte van Hoytema is absolutely stunning, his keen eye for the intense, disturbing yet vivid imagery was absolutely breathtaking.
To add to that, the sound design, mixing and editing was phenomenal. Every single gunshot, every spitfire engine, every explosion, was so immersive and so realistic, especially in IMAX the sound played a huge part to the overall experience and very much transported you into the story within the first minute of the film. Hans Zimmer's score is fast, emphatic, loud, booming, breathtaking and so effective. The track "Variation 15" is so moving, and used in the film in what I think was the best scene out of them, another dazzling combo between Zimmer and Nolan, and another success.
Only Christopher Nolan would be so tenacious to strap an IMAX camera onto the wing of a plane, wouldn't he? I saw the film firstly in regular 2D just to see what it was like, but yesterday i saw the film in 15/70mm IMAX, and i have to tell you that as a cinephile, it was the greatest cinematic experience of my life. It was absolutely beautiful to see a film in the format, and I can only imagine what it was like to see Lawrence of Arabia like that, too.
Nolan shows his true power as a filmmaker by showing such intrusive, delicate and inspirational sparks of cinematic euphoria, and proves the fact he is a prodigy of the film industry, and a true credit to British cinema as a whole.
I really couldn't find a flaw with this film on two watches, everytime it ended and the lights in the auditorium would turn on, i'd be crying.
Crying because it was such a tragic event, yes. But also crying because of how beautiful it was, and how difficult it was to watch at times, but the true struggle and perseverence that everyone showed was outrageously inspiring, and knowing now that this film will hopefully put a good name to the RAF as you see in the movie, it's wonderful to see and how one motion picture under two hours can captivate you and tell you this story of raw, unprecendented danger and how if it wasn't for these people, we wouldn't be alive is absolutely unreal.
The fear never escapes you, it lingers underneath like a plague, but knowing that these incredible men and women risked their lives for us, is extremely gratifying and as well as gaining more knowledge into the event that shaped our world today, it also gives you an exclusive, uncomfortable, spine chilling, bedazzling look into what it was like during that horrific period.
Nolan really outdid himself, and I think this is his best yet. It doesn't feel rushed, or bogged down by silly plot points, it feels natural and freeflowing, and by using the linear narrative structure he really used it to a great advantage, and despite all odds he still manages to balance these three crucial stories, take into consideration the overwhelming importance of the film, use the IMAX cameras and 70mm film to his advantage to make this film as memorable as it is, make sure every individual extra is in place, map out every scene, kick start some actor's careers in a sense and encapsulates the audience without fault
with a 76 page screenplay and the reliance of the survival aspect is sensational.
He really came into his own with this project, and it was refreshing to see something different, but something so shockingly realistic and visually stimulating, sure Interstellar was like that, but it didn't have minimal dialogue, no exposition, no points within the film where you feel lost, no points where you aren't truly in the shoes of the character's etc.
But everything about this movie was mastered to sheer cinematic perfection.
A true, signficant achievement in British film history.