DUNKIRK – review

DUNKIRK

    I love War movies, and more importantly I love Christopher Nolan written and directed movies.  Before I get into the review of Dunkirk, let me give you some history about the Battle of Dunkirk.  The battle took place in Dunkirk, France, during WW II between Nazi Germany and the Allies (at this time of WW II the United States has not entered the war yet).  The Battle took place from May 26 to June 4 1940. 

     After the Battle of France began May 10 1940, Group B of the German Army invaded the Netherlands and then went westward.  The response to this was French General Gamelin initiated Plan D where his forces entered Belgium to fight the Germans in the Netherlands. Plan D relied on fortifications of the Magiont Line that was located on the French and German border..  The problem the French faced was the Germans had already marched through most of the Netherlands before the French even arrived.  Gamelin commanded three forces the British Expeditionary Force, and the French 1st and 7th Army to the River Dyle.  May 14 1940 Germany Group A attacked through the Ardennes and the Sedan and went North toward the English Channel.

     After the Allies tried some counter attacks which all failed with the German army reached the coast on May 20th 1940.  This separated the British Expeditionary Forces, the 1st French Army to the north far from the majority of French troops south of the German penetration.  When the Germans reached the channel they swung north along the coast with the threat of capturing the ports and then trapping the British and French forces before they could flee to Britain.  The only saving grace is when Field Marshals Gunther Von Kluge and Gerd Von Rundstedt ordered a Halt so the German forces that surrounded Dunkirk should cease so they could consolidate to avoid the Allied Army breaking out.  Hitler sanctioned the order on 24th of May with the army halting for three days.  This gave the Allies enough time for the Dunkirk Evacuation and to build a defensive line. 

    With this background of Dunkirk Nolan’s film starts with Allied forces awaiting evacuation from Dunkirk.  The evacuation of Dunkirk which when you see this film feels like a victory for the Allied forces inspired Churchill speech when he said we shall fight on the beaches.   With a Nolan film (any film by Nolan) we get some great detail which helps mold the story he is telling you.  Like I stated in the background of Dunkirk there were roughly 400,000 allied troops stranded with the German forces surrounding them.  The Allies even in the movie are sitting ducks when the enemy (German) war planes are shooting and bombing them while lined up on the beaches and the Dock which Nolan describes as the MOLE. 

    Nolan wrote Dunkirk from three different stories, first we see the troops on the beach trying to get their way to safety before being killed by the enemy, the air where British Pilots such as Farrier (Tom Hardy) are engaging the German planes to keep them from bombing the rescue destroyers or those troops on the beach, finally we have the civilians from Ramsgate England to Dunkirk to rescue the trapped troops.  The civilian boat brigade in history is called the Little Ships of Dunkirk. 

  Not only is Nolan telling the story from three different points of views, but he also does what he does best in writing and directing movies, and that is mess with the time.  If you have seen Inception and Momento you know what I am talking about.  He does this so masterfully you hardly notice that the story of the troops on the beach last about a week (Pay attention to the night and day shots), the civilian rescue is about a day (pay attention to what they pass and see on the way across the Straight), and the air is only around an hour (pay attention to Hardy looking at his watch).  Nolan moves in and out of the separate stories, but also down the time line of his full story.  This would make some people confused if they 1) don’t pay attention, and 2) don’t know how Nolan works, he is a master at story telling.  The way he does the three stories along a week timeline going in and out just builds up the tension that you feel in the very opening scene all the way until the credits run, in my viewing of the flick no one got up from their seat, we all clapped but most of us were silent trying to get our words together on how moving this film really is.  Not only is the story telling and the film amazing, but also the music by Hans Zimmer, it moves with the film building up the tension as well. 

  Every WW II movie has to have action, and this one has some of the best combat WW II Air dog fighting I have ever seen on film.  We really never see Hardy’s complete face as it is covered up by the oxygen mask, but we know what he is felling and how he is concentration just by watching his eyes. 

    When we are with the Civilian boats we follow Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) who is a boat owner, father, and more importantly a Patriot.  He and his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and George (Barry Keoghan) who is Peter’s friend, they end up picking up a soldier who is a lone survivor of a U Boat attack played by Cillian Murphy. 

    When we are on the ground following the troops former One Direction Star Harry Styles plays Alex a British Soldier just trying to get off Dunkirk any way he can. Let me be one of the first to tell you Styles can act.  What is most important throughout the film is how there is not a lot of words being spoken, just enough, to tell the story, but you feel how Nolan wants you to feel.   

   I don’t want to try and compare Dunkirk to another War movie, but I think this is by far Nolan’s best movie, and that is saying a whole lot.  I loved this flick, right now my favorite of the year.  If you miss seeing this in the theater shame on you the noise of the planes, bombs, screams, and gun shots will not be the same at home.  Go see the flick this weekend I plan on seeing it again you should as well.  I grade Dunkirk an A+. 

BRAD WATTS

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