Dunkirk. A location where a transitionary event occurred during World War II. The allied forces were trapped on the shores of Dunkirk, hoping for the possibility of escape. Approximately 400,000 soldiers were rescued. Sometimes comprehending what it was like for the soldiers who experienced it is unfathomable for us. History books almost always fail to give us the right perspective, giving us statistics instead of covering the trauma that the people involved went through.
A large variety of movies have attempted to cover this topic. Some are documentaries, and others romanticized the events. Seeing the trailer for Dunkirk made me feel intrigued, as it did not seem like any other movies that I have watched before. A few weeks later I found myself in the theatre, brimming with anticipation. I was not let down.
The movie opens with a desolate scene where several soldiers walk ahead to an unknown destination. Torn flyers are raining down onto the street and the village seems entirely empty. The music is almost lifeless. That is, until gunshots rack the scene and everything is thrown into havoc. After this moment, there is barely a break from the action.
Hans Zimmer composed the music for Dunkirk, and it gives the movie a chilling ambience. An urgently ticking clock was weaved into the background. I was literally on the edge of my seat for the entire duration of the movie. The director of Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan. He is renowned for directing many other highly acclaimed movies, such as Interstellar and the Dark Knight trilogy. The duo are described as the next generation’s John Williams and Steven Spielberg.
Dunkirk consists of three main plot lines. The Mole, a week before the evacuation, follows several young Privates on land. The Sea, a day before the evacuation, takes us with a man and his son as they take their holiday boat out to rescue soldiers from the beach. The Air, an hour before the evacuation, brings us along with three pilots in their Spitfires. Each portion of the movie has its own compelling characters and plot lines.
In addition to the three portions of the movie, I enjoyed the approach that Nolan had towards Dunkirk: “The empathy for the characters has nothing to do with their story. I did not want to go through the dialogue, tell the story of my characters.” This made the movie focused on the visuals without the need of interspersing the character’s life stories throughout the movie. Dunkirk is a plot-driven story; dialogue from the characters was rare.
Many movies depicting wars romanticize the events of World War II or make it too character-driven. Dunkirk was distinctive in that the viewers felt as if they experienced the historical event. A war veteran was brought to tears as he recollected his personal experiences while watching the movie. Everything built up into a thrilling climax, and I was left chilled by the movie for a long time afterwards. Dunkirk was a compelling plot driven movie with dramatic music and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys movies based off of historical events.
By: Chloe Mee