Dunkirk

Year: 2017
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, Barry Keoghan

Written by Sarah Buddery

Films directed by renowned British director Christopher Nolan are always something of an event; few and far between but whenever does come along there is always incredible amounts of expectation. Nolan is one of those rare “classic” directors, one who has a love and appreciation for the craft and skill in making a film, and one who can easily stand amongst the all-time greats, despite his relatively small filmography.

The notion of Nolan directing a war film perhaps surprised a few people, and indeed I was one of those people questioning whether it would be Nolan directing a straight-up war film, or whether it would be a “Nolan-ified” war film. The short answer is it is neither of those things and it is wise not to go in expecting a “war” movie as you might imagine one. It isn’t short on action by any stretch, but it is much more of a thriller that just happens to be set during the events of Dunkirk.

It is fairest to describe ‘Dunkirk’ as a “ticking-clock thrilller” – quite literally in fact, as not only do the events seem to occur in real-time, but there is an ever present ticking sound incorporated into the score, serving as an ever present reminder of impending doom and tension.

This film was almost nothing like I was expecting, but was absolutely everything I wanted and so much more! ‘Dunkirk’ has the Nolan stamp all over it, with all the class and finesse that you would expect, but it is boldly and brilliantly different from anything he has done before. ‘Dunkirk’ is a breath-taking, heart-stopping masterclass in nail-biting tension that perfectly balances the action with genuine human emotion. It is a survival story at its core, and just as meticulous, precise and measured as you would expect from Nolan.

Shot on IMAX film, ‘Dunkirk’ is visually stunning to look at, and it is so refreshing to see an action thriller that is genuinely worthy of receiving awards. The cinematography is stunning and the mind-blowing attention to detail ensures that everything looks and feels as accurate as it possibly can. The incredible aerial acrobatics and dogfights were largely done for real, using real planes and with the actors genuinely placed within the cockpit of an aircraft; the result is something which is immersive and heart-stopping in places. So often you can be taken out of the moment because you know it was created on a computer or using a green-screen, and whilst you can be assured Tom Hardy and co were safe throughout, there’s some genuine heart-in-your-mouth moments that are heightened by knowing that they were done for real.

Frequent Nolan collaborator, Hans Zimmer is back with an incredibly emotive and brilliant score. It is so wonderfully woven into the soundscapes of war, incorporating the roars of planes and the tense ticking clock to absolute perfection. The  use of sound in ‘Dunkirk’ is undoubtedly awards worthy, and whilst it might be too early to call, I would be very surprised not to see it up there in the technical categories.

As is so often the case with Nolan films, the score and sound are sometimes a little overwhelming in places which made it a hard to hear the dialogue in places. Whilst it did an excellent job of conveying the chaos and noise of war, it did also make it a little difficult to connect with the characters at times. Whilst the tight run-time (by Nolan standards anyway!) did a great deal to keep it concise and measured, it did also leave a few untied loose ends which some may find frustrating. However, it is still dramatic at every turn, with unbelievable amounts of tension and an unrelenting energy that will leave you breathless.

It is perhaps the nature of the story that it wasn’t about connecting with the characters, more just the various situations occurring simultaneously which does make it difficult to pick a stand-out acting performance. Mark Rylance’s heroic every-man was the easiest to connect with however as he made a daring trip across the sea to save those stranded and surrounded by the enemy. Cillian Murphy’s deliberately un-named and shell-shocked soldier also does an excellent job of conveying the horrors of war and the effect it had on many. Despite it only being one man, the fact is he represents the mental anguish and damaged psyche of millions of people who have been through similar horrors, and it was a surprisingly powerful performance.

‘Dunkirk’ is an utterly stunning film which is as close to a perfect film as you can get. A fair warning if you’re hoping to see this in IMAX; the noise of the bombers and gunfire is absolutely deafening, so whilst it might lead to a loss of hearing, it’ll be more than worth it. Absolutely unmissable.

Sarah’s rating: 10 out of 10

This Week In Film Trailers

Wonder Woman

With just under a month to go before ‘Wonder Woman’ is unleashed in cinemas across the globe, we are being treated to multiple new TV spots and posters, just in case you weren’t hyped up enough already. Fans of the TV Show ‘Gotham’ were treated to a sneak peek at ‘Wonder Woman’ on Monday night, which was shortly released online after it aired. This is one of my most anticipated films this year and with each trailer, TV spot, clip, and poster, my excitement continues to grow.

It’s been fantastic to see the support shown on social media for the film following some bloggers and websites questioning the films supposed lack of marketing in the lead up to it’s release. Daily I see people on Twitter counting down to it’s release, sharing the still, trailers and adverts, and generally spreading positivity and showing nothing but love for the film, cast, and crew.

“Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.”

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Dunkirk

After a countdown began on the official website earlier this week, Twitter began speculating when to expect a new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s latest film. The speculating didn’t last long, as Monday afternoon a Tweet emerged with a teaser clip announcing the arrival of the trailer today!  Each day this week a similar Tweet has been sent from the Dunkirk account which said ‘Time is running out’ and ended with #400000Men, #933Ships, #26Miles, and #9Days. Then this afternoon the brand new trailer was released online in all it’s glory. There’s just something about the ‘Dunkirk’ trailers so far that I just really admire and just makes me even more excited to see it. They never just focus on one character in particular, giving me a feeling that this film will have a number of individuals it may focus on in particular, amongst lots of scenes with lots of soldiers involved. 

“In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.”

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The Dark Tower

The highly sought after trailer for ‘The Dark Tower’ finally hit the web this week, and despite fans excitement and anticipation for it, it was met with some scepticism. Fans of the Stephen King novels thought that the tone and style of the film were different to what they had expected, but most were excited nonetheless.  Having not read the books (I know I know, they’re on my list!), I think the trailer looks pretty good, and I’m excited to see an Elba vs McConaughey showdown. 

“The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.”

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Guy Ritchie’s latest film is almost here and the final trailer was release his week, 2 weeks before the films hits the cinemas in the UK. Whilst there’s not much new footage amongst these TV spots, I think they do a really good job of sustaining peoples interest in seeing the film. There’s been quite a mixed reaction from those lucky enough to have already seen this at preview screenings, with numerous people saying they were slightly disappointing with it, and other praising Ritchie’s efforts.

“When young Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down, and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy whether he likes it or not.”

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It Comes at Night

‘It Comes at Night’ looks like another promising film from A24, the studio that brought us the Academy Award winning ‘Best Picture’, ‘Moonlight’, and other fantastic films such as ‘Room’, ‘Ex Machina’, ‘The Witch’, and many more. The trailer focuses on Joel Edgerton’s character and his family, who live in isolation as an unknown threat has forced them to lock themselves away in fear. I thought this trailer was a fantastic first look at the film and looks like it could be another winner from A24. The trailer doesn’t hold back on the tension and some of you may want to avert your eyes at one but in particular… You’ll know which bit I mean when you see it. 

“Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous order a man (Joel Edgerton) has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within the man as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.”

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Bonus: Blade Runner 2049

Now whilst the new trailer hasn’t been released yet, today we were treated with  surprise announcement that one is arriving Monday. What a way to start a week! 

Written by Tom Sheffield