Grim reality of war captured in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’

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Dunkirk, with Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy. Directed by Christopher Nolan.

4.5/5

DEATH FROM ABOVE: Waiting for evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk, British soldiers learned to fear the eerie wail of Stuka dive bombers, as portrayed in the movie ‘Dunkirk’, now showing at Rosehill Cinema

FROM one of today’s most celebrated directors, Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception), comes a visual masterpiece of cinema with a large ensemble cast, including some familiar faces, as it portrays the evacuation of the British expeditionary forces from France at the start of World War II.

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, pushing the Allied troops back and trapping them on the beaches of Dunkirk. With French troops covering the strategic withdrawal and a handful of Spitfires providing air cover, the Royal Navy sent several destroyers to evacuate the British soldiers.

Under constant attack from Stuka dive bombers, Heinkels and u-boats, this seemed an increasingly impossible task, as ship after ship was sank, some before they were even able to leave the pier at Dunkirk.

Then the call went out to civilian boat owners, some of which were requisitioned by the Royal Navy and others who made the hazardous crossing of the English channel of their own volition, to load as many soldiers as they could onto their small vessels.

The imagery depicted is mesmerising, from the beautiful scenery that is contrasted with the sheer terror of war

The fear and desperation of these ordinary soldiers waiting in lines on the beaches, hoping to get on a ship out, is powerfully presented.

Though the entire movie has very little dialogue and it told in a non-chronological manner, it provides edge of your seat intensity by relying on the musical score and the tremendous acting of all involved to depict the historical event. The soldiers are not depicted as courageous warriors, but rather just scared, cold, hungry young men who are far from home in dangerous circumstances and doing their best to simply survive.

There is a focus on a few individuals amid the many souls involved in the evacuation, such as Dawson, played to perfection by Mark Rylance, who is steadfast in his decision to go to Dunkirk and rescue the young men, accompanied by his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney).

This movie is not the usual approach to war movies that one expects, though being a Nolan film you can certainly count on it being something different, fresh and compelling to say the least. The imagery depicted is mesmerising, from the beautiful scenery that is contrasted with the sheer terror of war through moments of panic and fear that are palpable – you almost feel the dread of the characters.

Overall, Dunkirk is a true cinematic experience and impressive story-telling along with fantastic performances. A definite must-see.

 

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