The year is 1940; the Nazi’s are blazing a murderous path through Europe and have driven 400,000 Allied soldiers to the northern French seaside town of Dunkirk. The soldiers are trapped on the beaches and Churchill is reluctant to waste larger Navy vessels to ferry troops back to Britain, as they’ll be needed in the inevitable German invasion to come.
The soldiers are literally sitting ducks, getting picked off by German dive-bombers and U-boats; survival is sometimes skill, mostly luck. Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Interstellar) has written and directed this movie focusing on three different perspectives, the land, the sea and the air.
‘The Land’ brings us the perspective of ‘Tommy’ (Fionn Whitehead), a British private desperately trying to survive on the beach, he’ll do whatever it takes, courage may be in short supply but his will to live is not.
‘The Sea’ starts back on British land with private boats being commandeered by the Navy to cross the English Channel in a race against time, rather than let the Navy take out his boat local man ‘Mr Dawson’ (Mark Rylance) goes on his own mission “We have to go to Dunkirk” he tells his son, he is determined to cross the Channel and help save his countrymen.
‘The Air’ is a battle for supremacy of the skies. The German dive-bombers vs 3 British Spitfire Pilots, whoever wins determines how many soldiers get off the Dunkirk beaches alive. ‘Farrier’ (Tom Hardy) is one of those Royal Air Force Pilots, you want him on your team but will he make the ultimate sacrifice?
Nolan has crafted a movie where the dialogue is sparse, the scenes are epic and most of the actors are unknown. The images speak for themselves, you live or you die for the most part depending where you are on the beach, it’s that randomness that is the most disconcerting. Hans Zimmer adds to the tension with a musical score cementing the horror of war.
Some are heroes and some are not, its all part of mans’ failings and triumphs. The greater good is always at play, the survival of Britain, but that’s hard to explain to drowning soldiers on a French beach. In one battle amongst many in World War 2 this may not have been the most important but in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ it could be the most thrilling.
hallymustang rating: 4/5 x x x x