I’m not sure what sold Dunkirk better, the theatre or the team Christopher Nolan gathered to put together some breathtaking pieces of cinematography and sound design.
Matt Rust, our inhouse professional with an opinion and I got to see Dunkirk on the massive IMAX screen normally reserved for 3D films. This time I was pleasantly surprised that we weren’t given some smudged glasses on the way into the theater. We got sweet spots near the back and in the middle. This is as good as it could get. IMAX, this was your chance to really impress me.
Then in the opening scenes of Dunkirk bullets break the calm of the coastal village scene. The sound felt like it punched a hole through me. “Holy shit,” I think to myself. “I need to pee again.”
The movie instantly draws you in, and the 4:3 aspect ratio fills the entire wall in front of us. Occasionally it goes back to regular widescreen which was weirdly jarring.
I wasn’t quite sold on Dunkirk due to the fact that the movie is about the horrors of war, but it had to do it on a low age rating. Meaning no blood. No blood in war, what sort of war is this? Are they fighting with pillows?
Nolan manages it though. Intertwining amazing sound design and a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer which is 90% slow build keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times.
He takes his fetish for time and pushes it into the premise of Dunkirk. It follows three groups. Soldiers desperate to escape the German advance pushing the French and English into the ocean are followed over the course of a week. Then there is the civilian storyline, of a man and his two sons crossing the channel to help with the evacuation. They’re followed over the course of a day. Then finally there is the air force, represented over the course of one hour.
I felt that the film didn’t necessarily put enough hype on the civilian side of things. They’re the real heroes. In an war ugly war marked by soldiers taking control, and civilians betraying neighbours, this was a point in time where civilians helped save half a million people, by putting their own lives on the line. During the miracle of Dunkirk 226 British ships were sunk. Many of them civilian day-tripper boats.
Matt had trouble telling all the dirty white teenagers apart. “My only problem with it is that I found it a little hard to tell some of the soldiers apart, which made it extra difficult to follow when they were jumping all over the timeline.”
I asked him if he had anything positive to say about the film. “Like, everything else?”
So I guess everything else was totally amazing. Actually, I don’t need to guess, I know.
The trailer didn’t sell me on the film so I decided not to include it in this review.