Dunkirk: History According to Nolan

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The loudest movie of 2017 must be Christopher Nolan‘s war drama Dunkirk. Gunshots, V2 bombs and other types of artillery make up a large part of the movie’s soundtrack. The other part is a melodically meagre score by Nolan’s partner in crime, Hans Zimmer who happens to be born in the country of the movie’s antagonists.

Loosely based on historical facts Dunkirk shows what happened on a French beach during the Second World War from the air, on the sea and on the mainland. Several single occurrences are seen multiple times throughout the film and it’s often rather hard to know which perspective you’re viewing the event from.

A nearly unrecognizable Tom Hardy portrays a war pilot
A nearly unrecognizable Tom Hardy portrays a war pilot

Nolan veteran Tom Hardy plays a pilot who has to eliminate the German airstrikers who bomb the allied forces as they try to escape to England. The part could have been played by a lesser known (and less expensive) actor since Hardy’s rarely seen without a mask hindering his performance and all his lines combined hardly fill one page.

The land part is seen from the perspective of several young and unknown actors, so unfamous I won’t bother mentioning their names. Christopher Nolan read that many of the soldiers were inexperienced and under twenty years old, which explains his casting choices.

One guy called Harry Styles (I doubt that’s his real name) used to sing in teen idol band One Direction. Nolan picked him because he likes the controversy and wanted to proof that underestimated actors like Heath Ledger as The Joker can act when he directs them.

Looking for cover during the bombings on the beach of Dunkirk
Looking for cover during the bombings on the beach of Dunkirk

The part in the water at last concerns the soldiers packed like sardines in a tin on a carrier awaiting their return home and trying to dodge German missiles on the way. Since the giant allied boats aren’t likely to make it to the English cliffs, several British civilians offer the soldiers a ride on their yachts. One of these is the Oscar winning Spielberg discovery Mark Rylance.

Rylance heads to Dunkirk on his boat together with his son and a young Rain Man like boy from the village. He picks up floating allied soldiers along the way to compensate for the loss of his other son who was killed during the war.

Dunkirk is an audiovisual spectacle which doesn’t come as  a surprise to anyone familiar with the work of Nolan. However the story does fall short and fails to make us care for any of the protagonists.

Will Tom Hardy shoot the last German aeroplane and land safely as he is running out of fuel? I couldn’t care less actually. Is Mark Rylance going to save some allied soldiers aboard his yacht or are they gonna drown? Does it matter? Will Harry Styles conquer a spot along the ship and make it to England or will the Germans use him as cannon food? Whatever?!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Oh yes, it's definitely a German plane getting nearer
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Oh yes, it’s definitely a German plane getting nearer

We see a lot of boats capsizing, or perhaps just one boat from different points of view and several scenes include water filling up the hold of a boat which can mean only one thing: Dunkirk is just Titanic but a whole lot louder!

If you get a chance to see Dunkirk in a movie theatre, do so, because the movie will not stand on a television screen. The sound and the visual grandeur of the film are the most fulfilling aspects of the movie which makes it enjoyable only in a cinema with large silver screens.

Original trailer for Dunkirk (2017)