Based on an inspiring true story, Dunkirk delivers a film that should give Christopher Nolan a long-overdue Oscar nomination for outstanding directing.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the war film stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy and Barry Keoghan, with Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. Nolan veteran Michael Caine sneaks in with an uncredited voice cameo talking to Tom Hardy’s Royal Air Force pilot, Farrier.
Imagine yourself being trapped on the beach as enemy forces are closing in. With nowhere else to go, a countless number of British and Allied forces depending on both military and civilian boaters to come to their rescue through Operation Dynamo.
The film is grounded through the story of a select few on land, sea, and air. On the sea, Mr. Dawson (Rylance) captains the Moonstone, a small wooden yacht, with his son, Peter (Glynn-Carney), and George Mills (Keoghan). They head towards Dunkirk after the military sends out the call to help with evacuation.
In the air, the RAF Spitfires are bttling enemy fighters above the English Channel to protect those on the ground. They get as many enemy fighters as they can but sometimes, it comes too late as the boats are getting sunk due to taking on fire from overhead or torpedoes blasted in their direction.
Taking place late May 1940 when the British Expeditionary Force, along with French, Belgian and Canadian troops, were stopped at the sea, Nolan gives us an action thriller of epic proportions. It’s one that as a lasting impact since evacuating Dunkirk helped change the war’s outcome. If not for the rescue, the British Army could have been captured by the Germans and held captive. We’re talking 400,000 troops.
“What happened at Dunkirk is one of the greatest stories in human history, the ultimate life-or-death race against time,” Nolan says. “It was an extraordinarily suspenseful situation; that’s the reality. Our aim with this movie was to throw the audience into that with an absolute respect for history, but also with a degree of intensity and, of course, a sense of entertainment, too.”
As war films go, this is right up there with Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg’s 169 minute film was set during D-Day and the Invasion of Normandy. Dunkirk is much shorter at 106 minutes but is just as epic a film. They were both slotted the same weekend on the schedule 19 years apart: July 24, 1998 for Saving Private Ryan, July 21, 2017 for Dunkirk.
Warner Bros. Pictures opened Dunkirk in theaters everywhere on July 21, 2017. Filmed with both IMAX and 65mm cameras, it’s best recommended to be viewed in 70mm.