The Good, The Bad and The Critic

Established on March 19th, 2012 and pioneered by film fanatic Michael J. Carlisle. The Good, The Bad and The Critic will analyze classic and contemporary films from all corners of the globe. This title references Sergei Leone's influential spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Dunkirk (2017) Review

Title: Dunkirk
Year: 2017

Director: Christopher Nolan
Country: UK
Language: English

Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk must have been a great pain to shoot. Using silent films like Greed and Intolerance as inspiration, Nolan choreographed scenes featuring over a thousand extras. He also used over 50 boats on the sea, the most that has ever been put on camera. In addition, because Nolan wanted to focus on realism, he put large IMAX cameras on the cockpit and wings of fully functional WWII era planes. Nolan considers the difficulty of making the picture worthwhile as the Dunkirk evacuation was "an essential moment in World History." 

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German Army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

Three interconnected stories about Dunkirk unfold over the course of the film, each ranging in scale and length. It's a complex narrative structure that focuses on land, air, and sea. Nolan's film avoids the thrill of a shootout, and instead each explosion fills the atmosphere with a sense of dread and doubt. The fate of the entire world depends on the allies'  survival on Dunkirk, and our hope that these soldiers will make it out diminishes as time goes by. 

Thirty Dunkirk survivors, all of whom were in their nineties, attended the film premiere in London. When asked about the film, they claimed it accurately captured the event, but the soundtrack was louder than the actual real life action. This would be one of my complaints about the film; Nolan is afraid of silence. The soundtrack blares throughout the run-time, which takes away the intensity of many scenes that would have had more impact through use of silence. In addition Nolan's focus on technical mastery does not make for adequate characters. Many are poorly introduced and/or are very one dimensional. 

Dunkirk is an awe-inspiring picture, but I'd be lying if I said I'd ever watch it again. The technical grandiosity sometimes makes the picture feel hollow; a style over substance type of work. I have seen many great war pictures, the most recent being Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge (2016) and this doesn't belong in that category. 

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