Dunkirk is harrowing and memorable. Look for it on Oscar night. Director Christopher Nolan, after thorough research and a serious plan, took three approaches – Land, Sea, and Air. The film moves fluidly between these perspectives and you feel immersed in the war. There is minimal dialogue and no character backstory or superfluous nonsense. Instead we follow the main lad (Fionn Whitehead) as he navigates Dunkirk, eager to survive. His shell-shocked look as he wanders the beach, ducking from air strikes, trying to get on an escape boat starts to bring on your anxiety. The sheer numbers of British and French soldiers stuck on the beach was staggering. How were they going to evacuate? That’s the land issue.
On the sea, we follow Mark Rylance and his boys as they sail their private boat to Dunkirk to help. There was an armada of private ships and boats who crossed the choppy channel to come to the soldiers aid. Plenty of drama at sea. Rylance projects a quiet nobility and his sense of duty is reassuring and brave.
By air, we see Tom Hardy and another fellow in their Spitfires as they dodge the German air assault, circle, weave, and shoot. Plenty of scary moments in the air.
Back on land, a group of guys commandeer a ship that’s grounded on the beach but the tide’s coming in. Once afloat, they are feeling safer until shots ring out, they start taking on water, and the fear and scrambling will have you gasping for breath yourself. Harry Styles ( One Direction singer) shows his acting chops in this film and does a fine job. Kenneth Branaugh is the Navy commander trying to coordinate boats and ships. He projects the weary responsibility of some who’s in charge, but concerned that Dunkirk is out of control.
Nolan keeps Dunkirk tight and tidies up the story line into a taut mesmerizing film. This was quite a turn in the war for the Allies. Excellent film, tough film, and not for the faint of heart. War is hell, and I’m sure movie hell depiction is only half of it. Salute those who served – innocent young lads fighting for their country and to survive.