“They fought as they revelled, fast, fiery, true, and though victors, they left on the field, not a few; and they who survived fought and drank as of yore, but the land of their heart’s hope they never saw more. For in far, foreign fields, from Dunkirk to Belgrade, lie soldiers and chiefs of the Irish Brigade.”
- Thomas Davis
“We must be very careful not to assign this deliverance the attributes of victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”
- Winston Churchill
There’s a question we often never ask ourselves, and that is “What does it feel like to go home?”. Does it feel relaxing? Reliving? Maybe even for some terrifying. We all go home to something, even if it’s not a roof over our head. I have to say, in my personal experience of never wanting to watch a war film, this surprised me. I always felt war films were sad and boring, never having a solid plot, just the main characters going through hardships or dying. From the perception of others around me, I could tell this movie was going to be interesting. Critics raved, people tweeted, but I honestly couldn’t take their word for it until I saw it myself.
Christopher Nolan, who has directed many of my favorites over the years, really captivated what it was like to be in that battle. The stopwatch, the gunshots, the plane engines, the language, the newspaper article dialogue at the end. It put YOU there. “The Battle Of Dunkirk” and the “Dunkirk Evacuation” is a whirlwind of events, that I can’t even retell twice. Many learned it in their history, but some are yet to be educated.
The acting was superlative. Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy, Tom Glynn-Carney, and many more gave me a reason to fall in love with the energy and narrative that films give you. Not including the back stories of the soldier’s lives, made it easier to focus on the plot at hand. Many war movies you see, there are these long, detailed back stories that pull you away from what the film was initially about. It’s a hit or miss with that sometimes. Main characters not facing their downfall of death, was also commendable.
Many people find it gut-wrenching watching true stories, or true events, but I find it quite interesting. When you’re rooting for a character to get through their hardship, and seeing them fail, again and again, it makes you utterly frustrated. Tommy and Alex had the same goal and were willing to fight for it. In fact, every soldier you saw, whether they were on the beach, in the air, or in the water had the same exact goal. You often felt bad for them, like you wished you could switch places if you’re that sentimental about it.
Although this movie was phenomenal, there were some things I wished were different. The scene when most of the soldiers returned to Dunkirk and fled to hide in a boat was one of those sequences where I felt needed more attention. If you’re wondering, yes, them almost drowning was attentive enough. I’m talking about dialogue. The dialogue in this movie was unforeseen to me. When you watch a war film, all you get is a textbook reading of what happened, and this one didn’t feel like that. It was real conversations, which again ties in with Nolan putting you in that atmosphere. Other than that, everything else was stunning.
My favorite part about any movie and the number one thing I make a note on is the cinematography. 70mm is an experience in itself, and if you go see this movie I highly recommend watching it in 70mm. It’s been a dream of mine to experience such an intense film in 70mm, and I guess it has come true. If you’re a film nerd like I am, you know that the mood and the cinematic elements of a film are the only things you really start to care about. A film’s form, which is the total systems of relationships at work in the film, were all shaped by the camera. The different angles told a story within the story being told, along with the cinematic filters.
Dunkirk, in my opinion, is a cinematic masterpiece that is blatantly already a classic. I rate this movie 5/5. Not many people put you in their stories, expecting you to forget. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this movie, even if I don’t get the chance to ever see it again. It’s times like these, where I’m kind of grateful I have a place to call home. 400,000 men didn’t even know if they were going to get off that beach. The one thing this film taught me, is that there are people who are willing to fight for their patriotism, not because they were forced to, did it to rebel, but because they actually gave a damn.
So ask yourself every now and then, “What does it feel like to go home?”.