Disclaimer: I’m a Christopher Nolan fan, but I’m not recommending the film because of his direction. It’s just not a visceral piece of film making. The film portrays one of the most important incidents of the Second World War which I believe the current generation should be aware of – it takes you through a sheen of nostalgic sentimentality. It’s about both bravery and suffering, individuals who care less about themselves than about a greater good.
Dunkirk is a war film written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan is known for his films – The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception & Interstellar. The music is composed by German composer & 4 time Grammy Award winner Hans Zimmer. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large format film stock.
Let’s look at the history
The film depicts Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk – the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France. A large numbers of British, French, Belgian, and Canadian troops were surrounded by the German army during the Battle of France between 26 May and 4 June 1940.
The Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. The British Empire and France declared war on Germany and imposed an economic blockade. The Germans invaded Beligum and Netherlands on 10 May 1940. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was sent to aid in the defence of France. However, they were surrounded by the German forces. The German army halted their advance to Dunkirk after a German High Command order, with Adolf Hitler’s approval.
It is one of the most debated decisions of the war, since it gave time for gave the Allies to organise the Dunkirk evacuation and build a defensive line. The Siege of Lille also gave time for the BEF to evacuate the forces from Dunkirk. British casualties amounted to 68,000, while French losses totalled around 290,000 with more than that either missing or taken prisoner.
In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the events in France “a colossal military disaster”, saying “the whole root and core and brain of the British Army” had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured. In his We shall fight on the beaches speech on 4 June 1940, he hailed their rescue as a “miracle of deliverance”. Most importantly the decimation of the British at Dunkirk may have resulted in the U.K.’s capitulation to Hitler and no American involvement in the European war. It was Hitler’s best chance to win the war.
The film depicts three distinct perspectives, based on fictionalized characters.
- Land: Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), plays a young soldier who is stranded on the Dunkirk beach and unfolds the tale of the men on the beach.
- Sea: Dawson (Mark Rylance) is a Brit who decides to rescue survivors using his small boat.
- Air: Farrier (Tom Hardy), a fighter pilot in a Spitfire who has one hour to take out Nazi planes and protect the men on the ground and in the water.
The film has been made extensive use of practical effects – employing 6,000 extras, assembling boats that had participated in the real Dunkirk evacuation, and using genuine era-appropriate planes for aerial sequences. With Hans Zimmer’s pulsating background score and extra-ordinary effects, the film is a must watch in theatres.
Not going to put forward any more spoilers. To put in one word, the film is a massive Nolanesque scale film. It’s definitely going to go down into the history as one of the greatest war films of all-time.